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International Library of Psychology 
Philosophy and Scientific Method 

Sex and Repression in 
Savage Society 

International Library of Psychology 
Philosophy and Scientific Method 

GENERAL EDITOR: C. K. OGDEN, M.A. {Magdalene College, Cambridge) 

Philosophical Studies . . . . . . by G. E. Moore, Litt.D. 

The Misuse of Mind by Karin Stephen 

Conflict and Dream* 6y W. H. R. Rivers, F.R.S. 

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus . . . . . fry L. Wittgenstein 

Psychological Types* fry C. G. Jung, M.D. 

Scientific Thought* fry C. D. Broad, Litt.D. 

The Meaning of Meaning . . . . fry C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards 
Individual Psychology ....... fry Alfred Adler 

Speculations (Preface by Jacob Epstein) fry T. E. Hulme 

The Psychology of Reasoning* ..... fry Eugenio Rignano 

The Philosophy OF " As If " fry H. Vaihinger 

The Nature of Intelligence . . . . . fry L. L. Thurstone 

Telepathy and Clairvoyance fry R. Tischner 

The Growth of the Mind . . . . . . . fry K. Koffka 

The Mentality of Apes . . . . . . . fry W. Kohler 

Psychology of Religious Mysticism . . . . . . fry J. H. Leub." 

The Philosophy of Music . . . . . . . fry W. Pole, F.R.S. 

The Psychology of a Musical Prodigy . . . . . fry G. Revesz 

Principles of Literary Criticism . . . . . fry I. A. Richards 

Metaphysical Foundation of Sciences . . . . fry E. A. Burtt, Ph.D. 

Thought and the Brain* . . . ' . . . . fry H. Pi6ron 

Physique and Character* ...... fry Ernst Kretschmer 

Psychology of Emotion < . fry J. T. MacCurdy, M.D. 

Problems of Personality ..... in honour of Morton Prince 

The History of Materialism . ... . . . ^ F. A. Lange 

Personality* . . . . . fry R. G. Gordon, M.D. 

Educational Psychology ....... fry Charles Fox 

Language and Thought of the Child ...... fry J. Piaget 

Sex and Repression in Savage Society* . . . fry B. Malinowski, D.Sc. 

Comparative Philosophy ...... fry P. Masson-Oursel 

SocLAL Life in the Animal World . . . . . . fry F. Alverdes 

How Animals Find their Way About . . . . fry E. Rabaud 

The Social Insects fry W. Morton Wheeler 

Theoretical Biology fry J. von UexkOll 

Possibility . . fry Scott Buchanan 

The Technique of Controversy fry B. B. Bogoslovskv 

The Symbolic Process . . . . . . . . fry J. F. Markey 

Political Pluralism fry K. C. Hsiao 

History of Chinese Political Thought . . .fry Liang Chi-Chao 

Integrative Psychology* ....... fry W. M. Marston 

The Analysis of Matter ..... fry Bertrand Russell, F.R.S. 

Plato's Theory of Ethics . . . . . . . frv R. C. Lodge 

Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology . . . . fry G. Murphy 

Creative Imagination ........ fry June E. Downey 

Colour and Colour Theories .... fry Christine Ladd-Franklin 

Biological Principles . . . . . . . byJ.H. Woodger 

The Trauma of Birth ......... fry Otto Rank 

The Statistical Method in Economics . . . . . fry P. S. Florence 

The Art of Interrogation . . . . . . fry E. R. Hamilton 

The Growth of Reason ....... fry Frank Lorimer 

Human Speech ........ fry Sir Richard Paget 

Foundations of Geometry and Induction . . . . .fry Jean Nicod 

The Laws of Feeling . . . . . . . . . fry F. Paulhan 

The Mental Development of the Child . . . . . fry K. Buhler 

EiDETic Imagery . . . . . . . . . fry E. R. Jaensch 

The Concentric Method . . . . . . fry M. Laignel-Lavastine 

The Foundations of Mathematics . . . . . fry F. P. Ramsey 

The Philosophy of the Unconscious . . . . fry E. von H.mitmann 

Outlines of Greek Philosophy fry E. Zeller 

The Psychology of Children's Drawings fry Helga Eng 

Invention and the Unconscious . . . . fry J. M. Montmasson 

The Theory of Legislation by Jeremy Bentham 

The Social Life of Monkeys fry S. Zuckerman 

The Development of the Sexual Impulses . . . fry R. E. Money-Kyrle 
Constitution Types in Delinquency . . . . . fry W. A. Willemse 

The Sciences of Man in the Making . . . . fry E. A. Kirkpatrick 

Ethical Relativity . . . . . . fry E. A. Westermarck 

The Gestalt Theory ....... fry Bruno Petermann 

The Psychology of Consciousness fry C. Daly King 

The Spirit of Language . . . . . . fry K. Vossler 

The Dynamics of Education . . . . . .fry Hilda Taba 

The Nature of Learning ...... fry George Humphrey 

The Individual and the Commxjnity . . . . -fry Wen Kwei Liao 

Crime, Law, and Social Science . , .fry Jerome Michael and M. J. Adler 
Dynamic Social Research . . . fry J. J. Hader and E. C. Lindeman 

Speech Disorders fry S. M. Stinchfield 

The Nature of Mathematics fry Max Black 

The Neural Basis of Thought fry G. G. Campion and Sir Grafton Elliot Smith 

Law and the Social Sciences ..... fry Huntington Cairns 
Plato's Theory of Knowledge . . . . . fry F. M. Cornford 

Infant Speech . . . . . fry M. M. Lewis 

• Asterisks denote that other books by the same author are included in the Series. 

Sex and Repression 
in Savage Society 








First published 1927 
Reprinted ... 1 937 

Made and Printed in Great Britain by 


12 Bedford Square, London, W.C.i 

and at Bradford 




New Guinea, 1914, Australia, 1918, 
South Tyrol, 1922. 


'T^HE doctrine of psycho-analysis has had within 
the last ten years a truly meteoric rise in popular 
favour. It has exercised a growing influence over 
contemporary literature, science, and art. It has in 
fact been for some time the popular craze of the day. 
By this many fools have been deeply impressed and 
many pedants shocked and put off. The present writer 
belongs evidently to the first category, for he was for 
a time unduly influenced by the theories of Freud and 
Rivers, Jung, and Jones. But pedantry will remain 
the master passion in the student, and subsequent 
reflection soon chilled the initial enthusiasms. 

This process with all its ramifications can be 
followed by the careful reader in this little volume. 
I do not want, however, to raise expectations of a 
dramatic volte-face. I have never been in any sense 
a follower of psycho-analytic practice, or an adherent 
of psycho-analytic theory ; and now, while impatient 
of the exorbitant claims of psycho-analysis, of its 
chaotic arguments and tangled terminology, I must 
yet acknowledge a deep sense of indebtedness to it 
for stimulation as well as for valuable instruction in 
some aspects of human psychology. 



Psycho-analysis has plunged us into the midst of 
a dynamic theory of the mind, it has given to the study 
of mental processes a concrete turn, it has led us to 
concentrate on child psychology and the history of 
the individual. Last but i;iot least, it has forced 
upon us the consideration of the unofficial and 
unacknowledged sides of human life. 

The open treatment of sex and of various shameful 
meanesses and vanities in man — the very things for 
which psycho-analysis is most hated and reviled — 
is in my opinion of the greatest value to science, and 
should endear psycho-analysis, above all to the 
student of man ; that is, if he wants to study his 
subject without irrelevant trappings and even without 
the fig leaf. As a pupil and follower of Havelock Ellis, 
I for one shall not accuse Freud of " pan-sexualism " 
— however profoundly I disagree with his treatment 
of the sex impulse. Nor shall I accept his views under 
protest, righteously washing my hands of the dirt 
with which they are covered. Man is an animal, and, 
as such, at times unclean, and the honest anthro- 
pologist has to face this fact. The student's grievance 
against psycho-analysis is not that it has treated sex 
openly and with due emphasis, but that it has 
treated it incorrectly. 

As to the chequered history of the present volume, 
the first two parts were written much earlier than 
the rest. Many ideas laid down there were formed 


while I was engaged in studying the Hfe of Melanesian 
communities on a coral archipelago. The instruc- 
tions sent to me by my friend Professor C. G. Seligman, 
and some literature with which he kindly supplied 
me, stimulated me to reflect on the manner in which 
the Oedipus complex and other manifestations of 
the " unconscious " might appear in a community 
founded on mother-right. The actual observations 
on the matrilineal complex among Melanesians are 
to my knowledge the first application of psycho- 
analytic theory to the study of savage life, and as 
such may be of some interest to the student of man, 
of his mind and of his culture. My conclusions are 
couched in a terminology more psycho-analytic than 
I should like to use now. Even so I do not go much 
beyond such words as " complex " and " repression ", 
using both in a perfectly definite and empirical sense. 
As my reading advanced, I found myself less 
and less inclined to accept in a wholesale manner the 
conclusions of Freud, still less those of every brand and 
sub-brand of psycho-analysis. As an anthropologist 
I feel more especially that ambitious theories with 
regard to savages, hypotheses of the origin of human 
institutions and accounts of the history of culture, 
should be based on a sound knowledge of primitive 
hfe, as well as of the unconscious or conscious aspects 
of the human mind. After all neither group-marriage 
nor totemism, neither avoidance of mother-in-law 


nor magic happen in the " unconscious " ; they are all 
solid sociological and cultural facts, and to deal with 
them theoretically requires a type of experience which 
cannot be acquired in the consulting room. That my 
misgivings are justified I have been able to convince 
myself by a careful scrutiny of Freud's Totem and 
Taboo, of his Group-Psychology and the Analysis of 
the Ego, of Australian Totemism by Roheim and of 
the anthropological works of Reik, Rank, and Jones. 
My conclusions the reader will find substantiated in 
the third part of the present book. 

In the last part of the book I have tried to set forth 
my positive views on the origins of culture. I have 
there given an outline of the changes which the animal 
nature of the human species must have undergone 
under the anomalous conditions imposed upon it by 
culture. More especially have I attempted to show 
that repressions of sexual instinct and some sort of 
" complex " must have arisen as a mental by-product 
of the creation of culture. 

The last part of the book, on Instinct and Culture, 
is in my opinion the most important and at the same 
time the most debatable. From the anthropological 
point of view at least, it is a pioneering piece of work ; 
an attempt at an exploration of the " no-specialist's- 
land " between the science of man and that of the 
animal. No doubt most of my arguments will have 
to be recast, but I believe that they raise important 


issues which will sooner or later have to be considered 
by the biologist and animal psychologist, as well as 
by the student of culture. 

As regards information from animal psychology and 
biology I have had to rely on general reading. I have 
used mainly the works of Darwin and Havelock Ellis ; 
Professors Lloyd Morgan, Herrick, and Thorndike ; 
of Dr. Heape, Dr. Kohler and Mr. Pyecroft, and such 
information as can be found in the sociological books 
of Westermarck, Hobhouse, Espinas and others. 
I have not given detailed references in the text and 
I wish here to express my indebtedness to these 
works ; most of all to those of Professor Lloyd Morgan, 
whose conception of instinct seems to me the most 
adequate and whose observations I have found most 
useful. I discovered too late that there is some 
discrepancy between my use of the terms instinct and 
habit and that of Professor Lloyd Morgan, and in our 
respective conceptions of plasticity of instincts. I do 
not think that this implies any serious divergence 
of opinion. I believe also that culture introduces 
a new dimension in the plasticity of instincts and 
that here the animal psychologist can profit from 
becoming acquainted with the anthropologist's con- 
tributions to the problem. 

I have received in the preparation of this book much 
stimulation and help in talking the matter over with 
my friends Mrs. Brenda Z. Seligman of Oxford ; 



Dr. R. H. Lowie and Professor Kroeber of California 
University ; Mr. Firth of New Zealand ; Dr. W. A. 
White of Washington, and Dr. H. S. Sulhvan of 
Baltimore ; Professor Herrick of Chicago University, 
and Dr. Ginsberg of the London School of Economics ; 
Dr. G. V. Hamilton and Dr. S. E. JelUffe of New York ; 
Dr. E. Miller of Harley Street ; Mr. and Mrs. Jaime 
de Angulo of Berkeley, California, and Mr. C. K. 
Ogden of Cambridge ; Professor Radcliffe-Brown of 
Cape Town and Sydney, and Mr. Lawrence K. Frank 
of New York City. The field-work on which the book 
is based has been made possible by the munificence 
of Mr. Robert Mond. 

My friend Mr. Paul Khuner of Vienna, to whom 
this book is dedicated, has helped me greatly by his 
competent criticism which cleared my ideas on the 
present subject as on many others. 

B. M. 
Department of Anthropology, 
London School of Economics, 

University of London. 
February. 1927. 



Preface ...... vii 



I. The Problem . . . . i 

II. The Family in Father-right and 

Mother-right .... 8 

III. The First Stage of the Family 

Drama ..... i8 

IV. Fatherhood in Mother-right . 25 
V. Infantile Sexuality • • • 33 

VI. The Apprenticeship to Life . . 40 

VII. The Sexuality of Later Childhood 49 

VIII. Puberty ..... 59 

IX. The Complex of Mother-right , 74 



I. Complex and Myth in Mother-right 83 

II. Disease and Perversion . . 85 

III. Dreams and Deeds ... 91 

IV. Obscenity and Myth . . . 104 




I. The Rift Between Psycho-analysis 

AND Social Science . . 135 

II. A " Repressed Complex " . 142 

III. " The Primordial Cause of Culture " 148 

IV. The Consequences of the Parricide 154 
V. The Original Parricide Analysed 159 

VI. Complex or Sentiment ? . . 173 



I. The Transition from Nature to 

Culture ..... 179 
II. The Family as the Cradle of 

Nascent Culture . . . 184 

III. Rut and Mating in Animal and Man 193 

IV. Marital Relations . . . 201 
V. Parental Love .... 207 

VI. The Persistence of Family Ties 

in Man . . . ... 218 

VII. The Plasticity of Human Instincts 225 

VIII. From Instinct to Sentiment . . 229 
IX. Motherhood and the Temptations 

OF Incest ..... 243 

X. Authority and Repression . 253 

XI. Father-right and Mother-right . 263 

XII. Culture amd the Complex . . 274 

Index ...... 281 

" After ignoring impulses for a long time in behalf 
of sensations, modern psychology now tends to start 
out with an inventory and description of instinctive 
activities. This is an undoubted improvement. But 
when it tries to explain complicated events in personal 
and social life by direct reference to these nature powers 
the explanation becomes hazy and forced . . . 

" We need to know about the social conditions which 
have educated original aztivities into definite and 
significant dispositions before we can discuss the 
psychological element in society. This is the true 
meaning of social psychology . . . Native human 
nature supplies the raw materials but custom furnishes 
the machinery and the designs ... Man is a creature 
of habit, not of reason nor yet of instinct. 

" The treatment of sex by psycho-analysts is most 
instructive, for it flagrantly exhibits both the consequences 
of artificial simplification and the transformation of 
social results into psychic causes. Writers, usually 
male, hold forth on the psychology of woman as if they 
were dealing with a Platonic universal entity . . . They 
treat phenomena, which are peculiarly symptoms of the 
civilization of the West at the present time, as if they 
were the necessary efforts of fixed native impulses of 
human nature," 

JOHN DEWEY, in Human Nature and Conduct 





pSYCHO-ANALYSIS was born from medical 
practice, and its theories are mainly psychological, 
but it stands in close relation to two other branches 
of learning — biology and the science of society. 
It is perhaps one of its chief merits that it forges 
another link between these three divisions of the science 
of man. The psychological views of Freud — his 
theories of conflict, repression, the unconscious, the 
formation of complexes — form the best elaborated part 
of psycho-analysis, and they cover its proper field. 
The biological doctrine — the treatment of sexuality and 
of its relation to other instincts, the concept of the 
' libido ' and its various transformations — is a part of 
thetheory which is much less finished, less free from 
contradictions and lacunae, and which receives more 
criticism, partly spurious and partly justified. The 
sociological aspect, which most interests us here, will 
deserve more attention. Curiously enough, though 
sociology and anthropology have contributed most 


evidence in favour of psycho-analysis, and though the 
doctrine of the Oedipus complex has obviously a 
sociological aspect, this aspect has received the least 

Psycho-analytic doctrine is essentially a theory of 
the influence of family life on the human mind. We 
are shown how the passions, stresses and conflicts 
of the child in relation to its father, mother, 
brother and sister result in the formation of certain 
permanent mental attitudes or sentiments towards 
them, sentiments which, partly living in memory, 
partly embedded in the unconscious, influence the 
later life of the individual in his relations to 
society. T am using the word sentiment in the technical 
sense given to it by Mr. A. F. Shand, with all the 
important implications which it has received in 
his theory of emotions and instincts. 

The sociological nature of this doctrine is obvious — 
the whole Freudian drama is played out within a 
definite type of social organization, in the narrow circle 
of the family, composed of father, mother, and 
children. Thus the family complex, the most impor- 
tant psychological fact according to Freud, is due 
to the action of a certain type of social grouping 
upon the human mind. Again, the mental imprint 
received by every individual in youth exercises further 
social influences, in that it predisposes him to the 
formation of certain ties, and moulds his receptive 


dispositions and his creative power in the domains 
of tradition, art, thought, and reUgion. 

Thus the sociologist feels that to the psycho- 
logical treatment of the complex there should be 
added two sociological chapters : an introduction 
with an account of the sociological nature of family 
influences, and an epilogue containing the analysis 
of the consequences of the complex for society. Two 
problems therefore emerge for the sociologist. 

First problem. If family life is so fateful for human 
mentality, its character deserves more attention. 
For the fact is that the family is not the same in all 
human societies. Its constitution varies greatly with 
the level of development and with the character of 
the civilization of the people, and it is not the same 
in the different strata of the same society. According 
to theories current even to-day among anthropo- 
logists, the family has changed enormously during 
the development of humanity, passing from its first 
promiscuous form, based on sexual and economic 
conununism, through ' group-family ' based on ' group- 
marriage', 'consanguineous family', based on 
' Punalua marriage ', through the Grossfamilie and 
clan kindred to its final form in our present-day 
society — the individual family based on monogamous 
marriage and the patria potestas. But apart from such 
anthropological constructions which combine some 
fact with much hypothesis, there is no doubt that 


from actual observation among present-day savages 
we can see great variations in the constitution of the 
family. There are differences depending on the 
distribution of power which, vested in a varying 
degree in the father, give the several forms of 
patriarchy, or vested in the mother, the various 
sub-divisions of mother-right. There are considerable 
divergencies in the methods of counting and regarding 
descent — matriliny based on ignorance of fatherhood 
and patriUny in spite of this ignorance ; patriUny 
due to power, and patriliny due to economic reasons. 
Moreover, differences in settlement, housing, sources 
of food supply, division of labour and so on, alter 
greatly the constitution of the human family among 
the various races and peoples of mankind. 

The problem therefore emerges : do the conflicts, 
passions and attachments within the family vary 
with its constitution, or do they remain the same 
throughout humanity ? If they vary, as in fact 
they do, then the nuclear complex of the family 
cannot remain constant in all human races and 
peoples ; it must vary with the constitution of the 
family. The main task of psycho-analytic theory 
is, therefore, to study the limits of the variation ; 
to frame the appropriate formula; and finally, to 
discuss the outstanding types of family constitution 
and to state the corresponding forms of the nuclear 


With perhaps one exception,^ this problem has not 
yet been raised, at least not in an explicit and 
direct manner. The complex exclusively known 
to the Freudian School, and assumed by them to be 
universal, I mean the Oedipus complex, corresponds 
essentially to our patrilineal Aryan family with the 
developed patria potestas, buttressed by Roman law 
and Christian morals, and accentuated by the 
modern economic conditions of the well-to-do bour- 
geoisie. Yet this complex is assumed to exist in every 
savage or barbarous society. This certainly cannot be 
correct, and a detailed discussion of the first problem 
will show us how far this assumption is untrue. 

The second problem. What is the nature of the 
influence of the family complex on the formation 
of myth, legend, and fairy tale, on certain types 
of savage and barbarous customs, forms of social 
organization and achievements of material culture ? 
This problem has been clearly recognized by the 
psycho-analytic writers who have been applying 
their principles to the study of myth, reUgion, and 
culture. But the theory of how the constitution of the 
family influences culture and society through the forces 
of the family complex has not been worked out 

^ I refer to Mr. J. C. Fliigel's The Psycho- Analytic Study of the 
Family, which, though written by a psychologist, is throughout 
orientated in the sociological direction. The later chapters, especially 
XV and XVII, contain much which is an approach to the present 
problem, although the writer does not formulate it explicitly. 


correctly. Most of the views bearing on this second 
problem need a thorough revision from the sociological 
point of view. The concrete solutions, on the other 
hand, offered by Freud, Rank and Jones of the actual 
mythological problems are much sounder than their 
general principle that the " myth is the secular dream 
of the race ". 

Psycho-analysis, by emphasizing that the interest 
of primitive man is centred in himself and in the 
people around him, and is of a concrete and dynamic 
nature, has given the right foundation to primitive 
psychology, hitherto frequently immeshed in a false 
view of the dispassionate interest of man in nature 
and of his concern with philosophic speculations 
about his destiny. But by ignoring the first problem, 
and by making the tacit assumption that the Oedipus 
complex exists in all types of society, certain errors 
have crept into the anthropological work of psycho- 
analysts. Thus they cannot reach correct results 
when they try to trace the Oedipus complex, essentially 
patriarchal in character, in a matrilineal society ; or 
when they play about with the hypotheses of group- 
marriage or promiscuity, as if no special precautions 
were necessary when approaching conditions so entirely 
foreign to the constitution of our own form of 
family as it is known to psycho-analytic practice. 
Involved in such contradictions, the anthropo- 
logizing psycho-analyst makes a hypothetical assump- 


tion about some type of primitive horde, or about 
a prehistoric prototype of the totemic sacrifice, or 
about the dream character of the myth, usually 
quite incompatible with the fundamental principles 
of psycho-analysis itself. 

Part I of the present work is essentially an 
attempt based on facts observed at first hand among 
savages, to discuss the first problem — the dependence 
of the nuclear complex upon the constitution of 
the family. The treatment of the second problem 
is reserved for Part II, while in the last two parts the 
same twin subjects are discussed in a general manner. 



' I ^HE best waj^ to examine this first problem — in 
what manner the ' family complex ' is influenced 
and modified by the constitution of the family in a 
given society — is to enter concretely into the matter, 
to follow up the formation of the complex in the 
course of typical family life, and to do it com- 
paratively in the case of different civilizations. I do 
not propose here to survey all forms of human 
family, but shall compare in detail two types, known 
to me from personal observation : the patrilineal 
family of modern civilization, and the matrilineal 
family of certain island communities in North-Western 
Melanesia. These two cases, however, represent 
perhaps the two most radically different types of 
family known to sociological observation, and will 
thus serve our purpose well. A few words will be 
necessary to introduce the Trobriand Islanders of 
North-Eastem New Guinea (or North-Western 
Melanesia) who will form the other term of our 
comparison, besides our own culture. 


These natives are matrilineal, that is, they Uve 
in a social order in which kinship is reckoned through 
the mother only, and succession and inheritance 
descend in the female line. This means that the boy 
or girl belongs to the mother's family, clan and com- 
munity : the boy succeeds to the dignities and social 
position of the mother's brother, and it is not from 
the father but from the maternal uncle or maternal 
aunt, respectively, that a child inherits its possessions. 

Every man and woman in the Trobriands settles 
down eventually to matrimony, after a period of sexual 
play in childhood, followed by general licence in 
adolescence, and later by a time when the lovers live 
together in a more permanent intrigue, sharing with 
two or three other couples a communal ' bachelor's 
house '. Matrimony, which is usually monogamous, 
except with chiefs, who have several wives, is 
a permanent union, involving sexual exclusiveness, 
a common economic existence, and an independent 
household. At first glance it might appear to 
a superficial observer to be the exact pattern 
of marriage among ourselves. In reaUty, however, it is 
entirely different. To begin with, the husband is 
not regarded as the father of the children in the 
sense in which we use this word ; physiologically 
he has nothing to do with their birth, according 
to the ideas of the natives, who are ignorant of 
physical fatherhood. Children, in native belief, are 


inserted into the mother's womb as tiny spirits, 
generally by the agency of the spirit of a deceased 
kinswoman of the mother.^ Her husband has then 
to protect and cherish the children, to ' receive 
them in his arms ' when they are bom, but they 
are not ' his ' in the sense that he has had a share 
in their procreation. 

The father is thus a beloved, benevolent friend, 
but not a recognized kinsman of the children. 
He is a stranger, having authority through his 
personal relations to the child, but not through his 
sociological position in the lineage. Real kinship, 
that is identity of substance, 'same body', exists 
only through the mother. The authority over the 
children is vested in the mother's brother. Now 
this person, owing to the strict taboo which prevents 
all friendly relations between brothers and sisters, 
can never be intimate with the mother, or therefore 
with her household. She recognizes his authority, 
and bends before him as a commoner before a chief, 
but there can never be tender relations between 
them. Her children are, however, his only heirs 
and successors, and he wields over them the direct 
potestas. At his death his worldly goods pass into 
their keeping, and during his lifetime he has to hand 

^ See the writer's The Father in Primitive Psychology (Psyche 
Miniatures), 1927, and " Baloma, Spirits of the Dead ", Journ. R. 
Anthrop. Inst.. 1916. 


over to them any special accomplishment he may 
possess — dances, songs, myths, magic and crafts. 
He also it is who supplies his sister and her household 
with food, the greater part of his garden produce going 
to them. To the father, therefore, the children look 
only for loving care and tender companionship. 
Their mother's brother represents the principle of 
discipline, authority, and executive power within 
the family. 1 

The bearing of the wife towards her husband is not 
at all servile. She has her own possessions and her 
own sphere of influence, private and public. It 
never happens that the children see their mother 
buUied by the father. On the other hand, the father 
is only partially the bread-winner, and has to 
work mainly for his own sisters, while the boys know 
that when they grow up they in turn will have to 
work for their sisters' households. 

Marriage is patrilocal : that is, the girl goes to join 
her husband in his house and migrates to his com- 
munity, if she comes from another, which is in general 
the case. The children therefore grow up in a com- 
munity where they are legally strangers, having no 
right to the soil, no lawful pride in the village glory ; 

^ For an account of the strange economic conditions of these 
natives, see the writer's " Primitive Economics " in Economic 
Journal, 1921, and Argonauts of the Western Pacific, chapters ii 
and vi. The legal side has been fully discussed in Crime and Custom 
in Savage Society, 1926. 


while their home, their traditional centre of local 
patriotism, their possessions, and their pride of 
ancestorship are in another place. Strange combina- 
tions and confusion arise, associated with this dual 

From an early age boys and girls of the same mother 
are separated in the family, owing to the strict taboo 
which enjoins that there shall be no intimate relations 
between them, and that above all any subject con- 
nected with sex should never interest them in common. 
It thus comes about that though the brother is really 
the person in authority over the sister, the taboo 
forbids him to use this authority when it is a question 
of her marriage. The privilege of giving or withholding 
consent, therefore, is left to the parents, and the 
father — ^her mother's husband — is the person who 
has most authority, in this one matter of his daughter's 

The great difference in the two family types 
which we are going to compare is beginning to be 
clear. In our own type of family we have the 
authoritative, powerful husband and father backed 
up by society. 1 We have also the economic arrange- 

^ I should like to mention that although under " our own " 
civilization I am here speaking about the European and American 
communities in general, I have in mind primarily the average type 
of continental family, as this was the material on which the con- 
clusions of psycho-analysis were founded. Whether among the higher 
social strata of the Western European or of the North American 


ment whereby he is the bread-winner, and can — 
nominally at least — ^withhold supplies or be generous 
with them at his will. In the Trobriands, on the other 
hand, we have the independent mother and her husband, 
who has nothing to do with the procreation of the 
children, and is not the bread-winner, who cannot 
leave his possessions to the children, and has 
socially no estabUshed authority over them. The 
mother's relatives on the other hand are endowed with 
very powerful influence, especially her brother, who is 
the authoritative person, the producer of supplies for 
the family, and whose possessions the sons will inherit 
at his death. Thus the pattern of social life and the 
constitution of the family are arranged on entirely 
different lines from those of our culture. 

It might appear that while it would be interesting 
to survey the family life in a matrilineal society, 
it is superfluous to dwell on our own family Ufe, so 
intimately known to everyone of us and so frequently 
recapitulated in recent psycho-analytic literature. We 
might simply take it for granted. But first of all, 
it is essential in a strict comparative treatment to keep 
the terms of the comparison clearly before our eyes ; 

cities we are now slowly moving towards a condition of mother- 
right more akin to the legal ideas of Melanesia than to those of 
Roman Law and of continental custom, I do not dare to prophesy. 
If the thesis of this book be correct, some modern developments 
in matters of sex (" petting parties ", etc.), as well as the weakening 
of the patriarchal system, should deeply modify the configurations 
of the sentiments within the family. 


and then, since the matriUneal data to be given here 
have been collected by special methods of anthropological 
field work, it is indispensable to cast the European 
material into the same shape, as if it had been observed 
by the same methods and looked at from the anthropo- 
logical point of view. I have not, as stated already, 
found in any psycho-analytic account any direct 
and consistent reference to the social milieu, still 
less any discussion of how the nuclear complex and 
its causes vary with the social stratum in our society. 
Yet it is obvious that the infantile conflicts will not 
be the same in the lavish nursery of the wealthy 
bourgeois as in the cabin of the peasant, or in the one- 
room tenement of the poor working-man. Now just 
in order to vindicate the truth of the psycho-analytic 
doctrine, it would be important to consider the lower 
and the ruder strata of society, where a spade is called 
a spade, where the child is in permanent contact 
with the parents, living and eating in the same room 
and sleeping in the same bed, where no ' parent sub- 
stitute ' complicates the picture, no good manners 
modify the brutality of the impact, and where the 
jealousies and petty competitions of daily life clash 
in hardened though repressed hostility.^ 

^ My personal knowledge of the life, customs and psychology of 
Eastern European peasants has allowed me to ascertain deep 
differences between the illiterate and the educated classes of the 
same society as regards the mental attitude of parents to children 
and vice versa. 


It may be added that when we study the nuclear 
complex and its bed-rock of social and biological 
actuality in order to apply it to the study of folk-lore, 
the need of not neglecting the peasant and the 
illiterate classes is still more urgent. For the popular 
traditions originated in a condition more akin to that 
of the modern Central and Eastern European peasant, 
or of the poor artisan, than to that of the overfed 
and nervously overwrought people of modern Vienna, 
London, or New York. 

In order to make the comparison stand out 
clearly I shall divide the history of childhood 
into periods, and treat each of them separately, 
describing and comparing it in both societies. The 
clear distinction of stages in the history of family life 
is important in the treatment of the nuclear complex, 
for psycho-analysis — and here really lies one of its 
chief merits — has brought to light the stratification 
of the human mind, and shown its rough corre- 
spondence to the stages in the child's development. 
The distinct periods of sexuality, the crises, the 
accompanying repressions and amnesias in which 
some memories are relegated to the unconscious — 
all these imply a clear division of the child's life into 
periods.^ For the present purpose it will be enough 

1 Although in Professor Freud's treatment of infantile sexuality, 
the division into several distinct stages plays a fundamental role, yet 
in his most detailed work on the subject (Drei Abhandlungen zur 
Sexualtheorie, 5th edition) the scheme of the successive stages is 


to distinguish four periods in the development of the 
child, defined by biological and sociological criteria. 

1. Infancy, in which the baby is dependent for its 
nourishment on the mother's breast and for safety 
on the protection of the parent, in which he cannot 
move independently nor articulate his wishes and 
ideas. We shall reckon this period as ranging from 
birth to the time of weaning. Among savage peoples, 
this period lasts from about two to three years. In 
civilized communities it is much shorter — ^generally 
about one year only. But it is better to take the 
natural landmarks to di\dde the stages of childhood. 
The child is at this time physiologically bound up 
with the family. 

2. Babyhood, the time in which the offspring, 
while attached to the mother and unable to lead 
an independent existence, yet can move, talk, and 
freely play round about her. We shall reckon this 
period to take up three or four years, and thus bring 
the child to the age of about six. This term of life 
covers the first gradual severing of the family bonds. 

not lucidly nor even explicitly drawn up. This makes the reading 
of this book somewhat difficult to a non-specialist in psycho- 
analysis, and it creates certain ambiguities and contradictions, 
real and apparent, which the present writer has not yet fully solved. 
Fliigel's otherwise excellent exposition of psycho-analysis {op. cit.) 
also suffers from this defect, especially regrettable in a work which 
sets out to clear up and systematize the doctrine. The word 
' child ' throughout the book is used sometimes to mean 'baby ', 
sometimes ' adolescent ', and the sense as a rule has to be inferred 
from the context. In this respect I hope that the present outline 
will be of some use. 


The child learns to move away from the family and 
begins to be self-sufficient. 

3. Childhood, the attainment of relative inde- 
pendence, the epoch of roving about and playing 
with other children. This is the time also when in all 
branches of humanity and in all classes of a society the 
child begins in some way or other to become initiated 
into full membership of the community. Among 
some savages, the preliminary rites of initiation begin. 
Among others and among our own peasants and 
working people, especially on the Continent, the child 
begins to be apprenticed to his future economic life. 
In Western European and American communities 
children begin their schooling at this time. This 
is the period of the second severing from family 
influences, and it lasts till puberty, which forms its 
natural term. 

4. Adolescence, between physiological puberty and 
full social maturity. In many savage communities, 
this epoch is encompassed by the principal rites of 
initiation, and in other tribes it is the epoch in which 
tribal law and order lay their claim on the youth 
and on the maiden. In modem civilized communities 
it is the time of secondary and higher schooling, 
or else of the final apprenticeship to the life task. 
This is the period of complete emancipation from 
the family atmosphere. Among savages and in our 
own lower strata it normally ends with marriage and 
the foundation of a new family. 



TT is a general characteristic of the mammals that 
the offspring is not free and independent at birth, 
but has to rely for its nourishment, safety, warmth, 
cleanliness and bodily comfort on the care of 
its mother. To this correspond the various bodily 
arrangements of mother and child. Physiologically 
there exists a passionate instinctive interest of the 
mother in the child, and a craving of the suckling 
for the maternal organism, for the warmth of her 
body, the support of her arms and, above all, the milk 
and contact of her breast. At first the relation is 
determined by the mother's selective passion — to her 
only her own offspring is dear, while the baby would 
be satisfied with the body of any lactant woman. 
But soon the child also distinguishes, and his attach- 
ment becomes as exclusive and individual as that 
of the mother. Thus birth establishes a link for 
life between mother and child. 

This link is first founded on the biological fact 
that young mammals cannot live unaided, and thus 
the species depends for its survival on one of the 
strongest instincts, that of maternal love. But 



society hastens to step in and to add its at first feeble 
decree to the powerful voice of nature. In all human 
communities, savage or civilized, custom, law and 
morals, sometimes even religion, take cognizance 
of the bond between mother and offspring, usually 
at a? early a stage as the beginning of gestation. 
The mother, sometimes the father also, has to keep 
various taboos and observances, or perform rites 
which have to do with the welfare of the new life 
within the womb. Birth is always an important 
social event, round which cluster many traditional 
usages, often associated with religion. Thus even the 
most natural and most directly biological tie, that 
between mother and child, has its social as well as 
its physiological determination, and cannot be 
described without reference to the influence exercised 
by the tradition and usage of the community. 

Let us briefly summarize and characterize these 
social co-determinants of motherhood in our own 
society. Maternity is a moral, reUgious and even 
artistic ideal of civilization, a pregnant woman is 
protected by law and custom, and should be regarded 
as a sacred object, while she herself ought to feel proud 
and happy in her condition. That this is an ideal 
which can be reaUzed is vouched for by historical 
and ethnographical data. Even in modem Europe, 
the orthodox Jewish communities of Poland keep 
it up in practice, and amongst them a pregnant 


woman is an object of real veneration, and feels 
proud of her condition. In the Christian Aryan 
societies, however, pregnancy among the lower classes 
is made a burden, and regarded as a nuisance ; 
among the well-to-do people it is a source of 
embarrassment, discomfort, and temporary ostracism 
from ordinary social life. Since we thus have to 
recognize the importance of the mother's pre-natal 
attitude for her future sentiment towards her offspring, 
and since this attitude varies greatly with the milieu 
and depends on social values, it is important that this 
sociological problem should be studied more closely. 

At birth, the biological patterns and the 
instinctive impulses of the mother are endorsed and 
strengthened by society, which, in many of its 
customs, moral rules and ideals, makes the mother 
the nurse of the child, and this, broadly speaking, 
in the low as in the high strata of almost all nations of 
Europe. Yet even here in a relation so funda- 
mental, so biologically secured, there are certain 
societies where custom and laxity of innate im- 
pulses allow of notable aberrations. Thus we have 
the system of sending the child away for the first 
year or so of its life to a hired foster mother, a custom 
once highly prevalent in the middle classes of France ; 
or the almost equally harmful system of protecting 
the woman's breasts by hiring a foster mother, or by 
feeding the child on artificial food, a custom once 


prevalent among the wealthy classes, though to-day 
generally stigmatized as unnatural. Here again the 
sociologist has to add his share in order to give the 
true picture of motherhood, as it varies according to 
national, economic and moral differences. 

Let us now turn to consider the same relation 
in a matrilineal society on the shores of the Pacific. 
The Melanesiai; woman shows invariably a passionate 
craving for her child, and the surrounding society 
seconds her feelings, fosters her incUnations and idealizes 
them by custom and usage. From the first moments 
of pregnancy, the expectant mother is made to watch 
over the welfare of her future offspring by keeping a 
number of food taboos and other observances. The 
pregnant woman is regarded by custom as an object of 
reverence, an ideal which is fully realized by the 
actual behaviour and feelings of these natives. There 
exists an elaborate ceremony performed at the first 
pregnancy, with an intricate and somewhat obscure 
aim, but emphasizing the importance of the event 
and conferring on the pregnant woman distinction and 

After the birth, mother and child are secluded for 
about a month, the mother constantly tending her 
child and nursing it, while certain female relatives 
only are admitted into the hut. Adoption under 
normal circumstances is very rare, and even then the 
child is usually given over only after it has been 


weaned, nor is it ever adopted by strangers, but by 
nearest relatives exclusively. A number of obser- 
vances, such as ritual washing of mother and 
child, special taboos to be kept by the mother, and 
visits of presentation, bind mother and child by links 
of custom superimposed upon the natural ones.^ 

Thus in both societies, to the biological adjustment 
of instinct there are added the social forces of custom, 
morals and manners, all working in the same direction 
of binding mother and child to each other, of giving 
them full scope for the passionate intimacy of mother- 
hood. This harmony between social and biological 
forces ensures full satisfaction and the highest bliss. 
Society co-operates with nature to repeat the happy 
conditions in the womb, broken by the trauma of 
birth. Dr. Rank, in a work which has already 
proved of some importance for the development of 
psycho-analysis, 2 has indicated the significance for 
later Ufe of intra-uterine existence and its memories. 
Whatever we might think about the ' trauma ' of birth, 
there is no doubt that the first months after birth 
reaUze, by the working of both biological and 

^ An important form of the taboo observed by a mother after 
birth is the sexual abstinence enjoined upon her. For a beautiful 
expression of the high moral view of natives concerning this custom 
see The Contact of Races and Clash of Culture, by G. Pitt-Rivers, 
1927, chap, viii, sec. 3. 

* Das Trauma der Geburt (1924). Needless to say, the conclusions 
of Dr. Rank's book are entirely unacceptable to the present writer, 
who is not able to adopt any of the recent developments of psycho- 
analysis nor even to understand their meaning. 


sociological forces, a state of bliss broken by the 
' trauma ' of weaning. The exceptional aberrations 
from this state of affairs are to be found only among 
the higher strata of civilized communities. 

We find a much greater difference in the fatherhood 
of the patriarchal and matrilineal family at this period, 
and it is rather unexpected to find that in a savage 
society, where the physical bonds of paternity are 
unknown, and where mother right obtains, the father 
should yet stand in a much more intimate relation to 
the children than normally happens among ourselves. 
For in our own society, the father plays a very small 
part indeed in the life of a young infant. By custom, 
usage, and manners, the well-to-do father is kept out 
of the nursery, while the peasant or working man 
has to leave the child to his wife for the greater part 
of the twenty-four hours. He may perhaps resent 
the attention which the infant claims, and the time 
which it takes up, but as a rule he neither helps nor 
interferes with a small child. 

Among the Melanesians ' fatherhood,' as we know, is a 
purely social relation . Part of this relation consists in his 
duty towards his wife's children ; he is there ' to receive 
them into his arms ', a phrase we have already quoted ; 
he has to carry them about when on the march the 
mother is tired, and he has to assist in the nursing at 
home. He tends them in their natural needs, and cleanses 
them, and there are many stereotyped expressions 


in the native language referring to fatherhood and 
its hardships, and to the duty of fiUal gratitude towards 
him. A typical Trobriand father is a hard-working 
and conscientious nurse and in this he obeys the call 
of duty, expressed in social tradition. The fact is, 
however, that the father is always interested in the 
children, sometimes passionately so, and performs 
all his duties eagerly and fondly. 

Thus, if we compare the patriarchal and the matriUneal 
relation at this early stage, we see that the main point of 
difference lies with the father. In our society, the father 
is kept weU out of the picture, and has at best a subordi- 
nate part. In the Trobriands, he plays a much more 
active role, which is important above all because it 
gives him a far greater scope for forming ties of affection 
with his children. In both societies there is 
found with a few exceptions, little room for conflict, 
between the biological trend and the social conditions. 



TX 7E have now reached the period when the child 
is already weaned, when it is learning to walk 
and begins to speak. Yet biologically it is but slowly 
gaining its independence from the mother's body. 
It clings to her with undiminished, passionate desire 
for her presence, for the touch of her body and the 
tender clasp of hen arms. 

This is the natural, biological tendency, but in our 
society, at one stage or another, the child's desires are 
crossed and thwarted. Let us first realize that the period 
upon which we now enter is introduced by the process of 
weaning. By this the blissful harmony of infantile life is 
broken, or at least modified. Among the higher classes, 
weaning is so prepared, graduated and adjusted 
that it usually passes without any shock. But among 
women of the lower classes, in our society, weaning 
is often a painful wrench for the mother and certainly 
for the child. Later on, other obstacles tend to 
obtrude upon the intimacy of the mother with the child, 
in whom at that stage a notable change is taking place. 
He becomes independent in his movements, can feed 
himself, express some of his feelings and ideas, and 



begins to understand and to observe. In the higher 
classes, the nursery arrangements separate the mother 
from the child in a gradual manner. This dispenses 
with any shock, but it leaves a gap in the child's life, 
a yearning and an unsatisfied need. In the lower 
classes, where the child shares the parents' bed, it 
becomes at a certain time a source of embarrassment 
and an encumbrance, and suffers a rude and more 
brutal repulsion. 

How does savage motherhood on the coral islands 
of New Guinea compare at this stage with ours ? 
First of all, weaning takes place much later in life, 
at a time when the child is already independent, can 
run about, eat practically everjrthing and foUow 
other interests. It takes place, that is, at a moment 
when the child neither wants nor needs the mother's 
breast any more, so that the first wrench is eliminated. 

' Matriarchate,' the rule of the mother, does not in 
any way entail a stem, terrible mother-virago. The 
Trobriand mother carries her children, fondles them, 
and plays with them at this stage quite as lovingly 
as at the earlier period, and custom as well as morals 
expects it from her. The child is bound to her, also, 
according to law, custom and usage, by a closer tie 
than is her husband, whose rights are subservient 
to those of the offspring. The psychology of the 
intimate marital relations has therefore a different 
character, and the repulsion of the child from the 


mother by the father is certainly not a typical 
occurrence, if it ever occurs at all. Another difference 
between the Melanesian and the typical European 
mother is that the former is much more indulgent. 
Since there is little training of the child, and hardly 
any moral education ; since what there is begins 
later and is done by other people, there is scarcely 
room for severity. This absence of maternal discipUne 
precludes on the one hand such aberrations of severity 
as are sometimes found among us ; on the other hand, 
however, it lessens the feeling of interest on the part 
of the child, the desire to please the mother, 
and to win her approval. This desire, it must be 
remembered, is one of the strong Unks of filial 
attachment among us, and one which holds great 
possibilities for the establishment of a permanent 
relation in later life. 

Turning now to the paternal relation we see that, in 
our society, irrespective of nationality or social class, 
the father still enjoys the patriarchal status.^ He 
is the head of the family and the relevant link in 
the lineage, and he is also the economic provider. 

^ Here again I should like to make an exception with regard 
to the modern American and British family. The father is in 
process of losing his patriarchal position. As conditions are in 
flux, however, it is not safe to take them into consideration here. 
Psycho-analysis cannot hope, I think, to preserve its " Oedipus 
complex " for future generations, who will only know a weak and 
henpecked father. For him the children will feel indulgent pity 
rather than hatred and fear ! 


As an absolute ruler of the family, he is liable to 
become a tyrant, in which case frictions of all sorts 
arise between him and his wife and children. The 
details of these depend greatly on the social milieu. 
In the wealthy classes of Western civilization, the 
child is well separated from his father by all sorts 
of nursery arrangements. Although constantly with 
the nurse, the child is usually attended to and controlled 
by the mother, who, in such cases, almost invariably 
takes the dominant place in the child's affections. 
The father, on the other hand, is seldom brought within 
the child's horizon, and then only as an onlooker 
and stranger, before whom the children have to 
behave themselves, show off and perform. He is the 
source of authority, the origin of punishment, and 
therefore becomes a bogey. Usually the result is 
a mixture ; he is the perfect being for whose benefit 
everything has to be done ; and, at the same time, 
he is the ' ogre ' whom the child has to fear and 
for whose comfort, as the child soon reaUzes, the house- 
hold is arranged. The loving and sympathetic father 
will easily assume the former role of a demi-god. The 
pompous, wooden, or tactless one will soon earn the 
suspicion and even hate of the nursery. In relation 
to the father, the mother becomes an intermediary 
who is sometimes ready to denounce the child to 
the higher authority, but who at the same time can 
intercede against punishment. 


The picture is different, though the results are not 
dissimilar, in the one-room and one-bed households 
of the poor peasantry of Central and Eastern Europe, 
or of the lower working classes. The father is brought 
into closer contact with the child, which in rare 
circumstances allows of a greater affection, but usually 
gives rise to much more acute and chronic friction. 
When a father returns home tired from work, or drunk 
from the inn, he naturally vents his ill-temper on the 
family, and bullies mother and children. There is no 
village, no poor quarter in a modem town, where 
cases could not be found of sheer, patriarchal cruelty. 
From my own memory, I could quote numerous 
cases where peasant fathers would, on returning home 
drunk, beat the children for sheer pleasure, or drag 
them out of bed and send them into the cold night. 

Even at best, when the working father returns 
home, the children have to keep quiet, stop rowdy 
games and repress spontaneous, childish outbursts 
of joy and sorrow. The father is a supreme source 
of punishment in poor households also, while the 
mother acts as intercessor, and often shares in the 
treatment meted out to the children. In the poorer 
households, moreover, the economic role of provider 
and the social power of the father are more quickly 
and definitely recognized, and act in the same direction 
as his personal influence. 

The role of the Melanesian father at this stage is 


very different from that of the European patriarch. 
I have briefly sketched in Chapter IV his very different 
social position as husband and father, and the part he 
plays in the household. He is not the head of the 
family, he does not transmit his lineage to his children, 
nor is he the main provider of food. This entirely 
changes his legal rights and his personal attitude to 
his wife. A Trobriand man will seldom quarrel with 
his wife, hardly ever attempt to brutalize her, and he 
will never be able to exercise a permanent tyranny. 
Even sexual co-habitation is not regarded by native 
law and usage as the wife's duty and the husband's 
privilege, as is the case in our society. The Trobriand 
natives take the view, dictated by tradition, that 
the husband is indebted to his wife for sexual services, 
that he has to deserve them and pay for them. One 
of the ways, the chief way, in fact, of acquitting 
himself of this duty is by performing services for her 
children and showing affection to them. There are 
many native sayings which embody in a sort of loose 
folk-lore these principles. In the child's infancy 
the husband has been the nurse, tender and loving ; 
later on in early childhood he plays with it, carries it, 
and teaches it such amusing sports and occupations 
as take its fancy. 

Thus the legal, moral and customary tradition 
of the tribe and all the forces of organization combine 
to give the man, in his conjugal and paternal rdle. 


an entirely different attitude from that of a patriarch. 
And though it has to be defined in an abstract manner, 
this is by no means a mere legal principle, detached 
from life. It expresses itself in every detail of daily 
existence, permeates all the relations within the 
family, and dominates the sentiments found there. 
The children never see their mother subjugated or 
brutalized or in abject dependence upon her husband, 
not even when she is a commoner married to a chief. 
They never feel his heavy hand on themselves ; he 
is not their kinsman, nor their owner, nor their 
benefactor. He has no rights or prerogatives. Yet 
he feels, as does every normal father all over the 
world, a strong affection for them ; and this, together 
with his traditional duties, makes him try to win their 
love, and thus to retain his influence over them. 

Comparing European with Melanesian paternity, it 
is important to keep in mind the biological facts as 
well as the sociological. Biologically there is 
undoubtedly in the average man a tendency towards 
affectionate and tender feelings for his children. 
But this tendency seems not to be strong enough 
to outweigh the many hardships which children 
entail on a parent. When, therefore, society steps 
in and in one case declares that the father is the 
absolute master, and that the children should be there 
for his benefit, pleasure and glory, this social influence 
tilts the balance against a happy equilibrium of 


natural affection and natural impatience of the 
nuisance. When, on the other hand, a matrilineal 
society grants the father no privileges and no right 
to his children's affections, then he must earn them, 
and when again, in the same uncivilized society, 
there are fewer strains on his nerves and his ambitions 
and his economic responsibilities, he is freer to give 
himself up to his paternal instincts. Thus in our 
society the adjustment between biological and social 
forces, which was satisfactory in earliest childhood, 
begins to show a lack of harmony later on. In the 
Melanesian society, the harmonious relations persist. 

Father -right, we have seen, is to a great extent 
a source of family conflict, in that it grants to 
the father social claims and prerogatives not com- 
mensurate with his biological propensities, nor with the 
personal affection which he can feel for and arouse 
in his children. 


T^RAVERSING the same ground as Freud and the 
psycho-analysts, I have yet tried to keep clear 
of the subject of sex, partly in order to emphasize 
the sociological aspect in my account, partly in order 
to avoid moot theoretical distinctions as to the nature 
of mother-and-child attachment or the ' libido ' . But at 
this stage, as the children begin to play independently 
and develop an interest in the surrounding work and 
people, sexuality makes its first appearance in forms 
accessible to outside sociological observation and 
directly affecting family life.^ A careful observer of 
European children, and one who has^not forgotten his 
own childhood, has to recognize that at an early age, 
say, between three and four, there arises in them 
a special sort of interest and curiosity. Besides the 
world of lawful, normal and ' nice ' things, there opens 

^ The reader who is interested in infantile sexuality and child 
psychology should also consult A. Moll, Das Sexualleben des Kindes 
(1908) ; Havelock Ellis's Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1919 ed., 
pp. 13 seqq., also vol. i, 1910 ed., pp. 36 seqq. and 235 seqq. and 
passim). The books of Ploss-Renz, Das Kind in Brauch und Sitte 
der Volker (Leipzig, 1911-12); Charlotte Biihler, Das Seelenleben 
des Jugendlichen (1925) ; and the works of William Stern on Child 
Psychology are also important. 

33 D 


up a world of shame-faced desires, clandestine interests 
and subterranean impulses. The two categories of 
things, ' decent ' and ' indecent ', ' pure ' and ' impure ', 
begin to crystallize, categories destined to remain 
throughout life. In some people the ' indecent ' 
becomes completely suppressed, and the right values of 
decency become hypertrophied into the virulent 
virtue of the puritan, or the still more repulsive 
hypocrisy of the conventionally moral. Or the ' decent ' 
is altogether smothered through glut in pornographic 
satisfaction, and the other category develops into 
a complete pruriency of mind, not less repulsive 
than hypocritical ' virtue ' itself. 

In the second stage of childhood which we are now 
considering, that is according to my scheme from 
an age of about four to six years, the ' indecent ' 
centres round interests in excretory functions, 
exhibitionism and games witii indecent exposure, 
often associated with cruelty. It hardly differentiates 
between the sexes, and is little interested in the act 
of reproduction. Anyone who has lived for a long 
time among peasants and knows intimately their child- 
hood will recognize that this state of affairs exists as a 
thing normal, though not open. Among the working 
classes things seem to be similar.* Among the higher 

^ That conscientious sociologist, Zola, has provided us with rich 
material on the subject, entirely in agreement with my own observa- 


classes ' indecencies ' are much more suppressed, but 
not very different. Observations in these social strata, 
which would be more difficult than among peasants, 
should, however, be urgently carried out for pedagogical, 
moral and eugenic reasons, and suitable methods 
of research devised. The results would, I think, 
confirm to an extraordinary degree some of the 
assertions of Freud and his school.^ 

How does the newly awakened infantile sexuaUty 
or infantile indecency influence the relation to the 
family ? In the division between things ' decent ' 
and ' indecent ', the parents, and especially the mother, 
are included wholly within the first category, 
and remain in the child's mind absolutely untouched 
by the ' indecent.' The feeling that the mother 
might be aware of any prurient infantile play is 
extremely distasteful to the child, and there is a strong 
disinclination to allude in her presence or to speak 
with her about any sexual matters. The father, 
who is also kept strictly outside the ' indecent ' 
category, is, moreover, regarded as the moral authority 
whom these thoughts and pastimes would offend. 

^ Freud's contentions of the normal occurrence of premature 
sexuality, of little differentiation between the sexes, of anal-eroticism 
and absence of genital interest are, according to my observations, 
correct. In a recent article (Zeitschrift ]ur Psycho-Analyse, 1923), 
Freud has somewhat modified his previous view, and affirms, without 
giving arguments, that children at this stage have, after all, already 
a ' genital ' interest. With this I cannot agree. 


For the ' indecent ' always carries with it a sense of 

Freud and the psycho-analjrtic school have laid great 
stress on the sexual rivalry between mother and 
daughter, father and son respectively. My own 
opinion is that the rivalry between mother and 
daughter does not begin at this early stage. At any 
rate, I have never observed any traces of it. The 
relations between father and son are more complex. 
Although, as I have said, the little boy has no thoughts, 
desires or impulses towards his mother which he 
himself would feel belong to the category of the 
'indecent', there can be no doubt that a young 
organism reacts sexually to close bodily contact 
with the mother. 2 A well-known piece of advice 

^ The attitude of the modern man and woman is rapidly changing. 
At present we studiously ' enlighten ' our children, and keep ' sex ' 
neatly prepared for them. In the first place, however, we must 
remember that we are dealing here with a minority even among 
the British and American " intelligentsia ". In the second place, 
I am not at all certain whether the bashfulness and awkward attitude 
of children towards their parents in matters of sex will be to any 
great extent overcome by this method of treatment. There seems 
to exist a general tendency even among adults to eliminate the 
dramatic, upsetting, and mysterious emotional elements out of any 
stable relationship based on every-day intercourse. Even among 
the essentially ' unrepressed ' Trobrianders the parent is never 
the confidant in matters of sex. It is remarkable how much easier 
it is to make any delicate or shameful confession to those friends 
and acquaintances who are not too intimately connected with our 
daily hfe. 

* Since this was first written in 1921, I have changed my views 
on this subject. The statement that 'a young organism reacts 
sexually to close bodily contact with the mother ' appears to me 


given by old gossips to young mothers in peasant 
communities is to the effect that boys above the age 
of three should sleep separately from the mother. 
The occurrence of infantile erections is well known 
in these communities, as is also the fact that the boy 
clings to the mother in a different way from the girl. 
That the father and the young male child have a 
component of sexual rivalry under such conditions 
seems probable, even to an outside sociological observer. 
The psycho-analysts maintain it categorically. Among 
the wealthier classes crude conflicts arise more seldom, 
if ever, but they arise in imagination and in a more 
refined though perhaps not less insidious form. 

It must be noted that at this stage when the child 
begins to show a different character and temperament 
according to sex, the parents' feelings are differentiated 
between sons and daughters. The father sees in the 
son his successor, the one who is to replace him in 
the family lineage and in the household. He becomes 
therefore all the more critical, and this influences his 
feelings in two directions : if the boy shows signs 
of mental or physical deficiency, if he is not up to the 
type of the ideal in which the father believes, he will 
be a source of bitter disappointment and hostility. 
On the other hand, even at this stage, a certain 

now absurd. I am glad I may use this strong word, having written 
the absurd statement myself. I have set forth what appears to me 
the adequate analysis of this phase in infantile psychology later 
on, Part IV, Chapter IX. 


amount of rivalry, the resentment of future super- 
session, and the melancholy of the waning generation 
lead again to hostility. Repressed in both cases, this 
hostility hardens the father against the son and provokes 
by reaction a response in hostile feelings. The mother, 
on the other hand, has no grounds for negative 
sentiments, and has an additional admiration for the 
son as a man to be. The father's feeling towards the 
daughter — a repetition of himself in a feminine form — 
hardly fails to evoke a tender emotion, and perhaps 
also to flatter his vanity. Thus social factors mix 
with biological and make the father cUng more tenderly 
to the daughter than to the son, while with the mother 
it is the reverse. But it must be noted that an 
attraction to the offspring of the other sex, because it 
is of the other sex, is not necessarily sexual attraction. 
In Melanesia, we find an altogether different type 
of sexual development in the child. That the biological 
impulses do not essentially differ, seems beyond 
doubt. But I have failed to find any traces of what 
could be called infantile indecencies, or of a 
subterranean world in which children indulge 
in clandestine pastimes centring round excretory 
functions or exhibitionism. The subject naturally 
presents certain difficulties of observation, for it is 
hard to enter into any personal communication with 
a savage child, and if there were a world of indecent 
things as amongst ourselves, it would be as futile 


to inquire about it from an average grown-up native 
as from a conventional mother, father, or nurse in 
our society. But there is one circumstance which 
makes matters so entirely different among these 
natives that there is no danger of making a mistake : 
this is that with them there is no repression, no 
censure, no moral reprobation of infantile sexuality 
of the genital type when it comes to light at a somewhat 
later stage than the one we are now considering — 
at about the age of five or six. So if there were any 
earlier indecency, this could be as easily observed 
as the later genital stage of sexual plays. 

How can we then explain why among savages 
there is no period of what Freud calls ' pre-genital', 
' anal-erotic ' interest ? We shall be able to understand 
this better when we discuss the sexuality of the 
next stage in the child's development, a sexuality 
in which native Melanesian children differ essentially 
from our own. 



TX 7E enter now on the third stage of childhood, 
commencing between the ages of five and seven. 
At this period a child begins to feel independent, 
to create its own games, to seek for associates of the 
same age, with whom it has a tendency to roam about 
unencumbered by grown-up people. This is the time 
when play begins to pass into more definite occupa- 
tions and serious life interests. 

Let us follow our parallel at this stage. In Europe, 
entrance into school or, among the uneducated classes, 
some sort of preliminary apprenticeship to an economic 
occupation removes the child from the influence of 
the family. The boy or girl lose to some extent 
their exclusive attachment to the mother. With the 
boy, there frequently takes place at this period a trans- 
ference of sentiment to a substitute mother, who 
for the time being is regarded with some of the 
passionate tenderness felt for the mother, but with no 
other feelings. Such transference must not be con- 
fused with the much later tendency of adolescent 
boys to fall in love with women older than themselves. 
At the same time, there arises a desire for independence 



from the all-possessive intimacy of maternal interest, 
which makes the child withhold its absolute confidence 
from the parent. Among the peasants and lower 
classes, the process of emancipation from the mother 
takes place earlier than in the higher, but it is 
similar in all essentials. When the mother is deeply 
attached to the child, especially to the boy, she is 
apt to feel a certain amount of jealousy and resentment 
at this emancipation and to put obstacles in its 
way. This usually makes the wrench only more 
painful and violent. 

The children on the coral beaches of the Western 
Pacific show a similar tendency. This appears there 
even more clearly, for the absence of compulsory 
education and of any strict discipline at this age 
allows a much freer play to the natural inclinations 
of infantile nature. On the part of the mother there 
is in Melanesia, however, no jealous resentment 
or anxiety at the child's new-found independence, 
and here we see the influence of the lack of any deep, 
educational interest between mother and child. At 
this stage, the children in the Trobriand archipelago 
begin to form a small juvenile community within 
the community. They roam about in bands, play on 
distant beaches or in secluded parts of the jungle, 
join with other small communities of children from 
neighbouring villages, and in all this, though they 
obey the commands of their child-leaders, they are 


almost completely independent of the elders' 
authority. The parents never try to keep them back, 
to interfere with them in any way or to bind them 
to any routine. At first, of course, the family still 
retains a considerable hold over the child, but the 
process of emancipation progresses gradually and 
constantly in an untrammelled, natural manner. 

In this there is a great difference between European 
conditions, where the child often passes from the 
intimacy of the family to the cold discipline of the 
school or other preliminary training, and the Melanesian 
state of affairs where the process of emancipation 
is gradual, free and pleasailt. 

And now what about the father at this stage ? 
In our society — here again excluding certain modern 
phases of family life in Britain and America — 
he still represents the principle of authority within 
the family. Outside, at school, in the workshop, 
at the preliminary manual labour which the child 
of peasants is often set to do, it is either the 
father in person or his substitute who wields the 
power. In the higher classes at this stage, the 
very important process of conscious formation of 
paternal authority and of the father ideal takes 
place. The child begins now to comprehend 
what it had guessed and felt before — the 
father's established authority as the head of the 
family, and his economic influence. The ideal of his 


infallibility, wisdom, justice, and might is usually 
in varying degrees and in different ways inculcated 
in the child by the mother or the nurse in reUgious 
and moral teaching. Now the role of an ideal is never 
an easy one, and to maintain it in the intimacy of 
daily life is a very difficult performance indeed, 
especially for one whose bad tempers and follies are 
not repressed by any discipline. Thus no sooner is 
the father ideal formed than it begins to decompose. 
The child feels at first only a vague malaise at his 
father's bad temper or weakness, a fear of his wrath, 
a dim feeling of injustice, perhaps some shame when 
the father has a really bad outburst. Soon the typical 
father-sentiment is formed, full of contradictory 
emotions, a mixture of reverence, contempt, affection 
and dislike, tenderness and fear. It is at this period 
of childhood that the social influence due to patriarchal 
institutions makes itself felt in the child's attitude 
towards the male parent. Between the boy and his 
father the rivalries of successor and superseded, and 
the mutual jealousies described in the previous section, 
crystallize more distinctly and make the negative 
elements of the father-to-son relation more pre- 
dominant than in the case of father-to-daughter. 

Among the lower classes, the process of the idealiza- 
tion of the father is cruder but not less important. 
As I have already said, the father in a typical peasant 
household is openly a tyrant. The mother acquiesces 


in his supremacy and imparts the attitude to her 
children, who reverence and at the same time fear 
the strong and brutal force embodied in their father. 
Here also a sentiment composed of ambivalent emotion 
is formed, with a distinct preference of the father 
for his female children. 

What is the father's role in Melanesia ? Little need 
be said about it at this stage. He continues to 
befriend the children, to help them, to teach them 
what they like and as much as they like. Children, 
it is true, are less interested in him at this stage and 
prefer, on the whole, their small comrades. But the 
father is always there as a helpful adviser, half play- 
mate, half protector. 

Yet at this period the principle of tribal law and 
authority, the submission to constraint and to the 
prohibition of certain desirable things enters the life 
of a young girl or boy. But this law and constraint 
are represented by quite another person than the 
father, by the mother's brother, the male head of the 
family in a matriarchal society. He it is who actually 
wields the potestas and who indeed makes ample 
use of it. 

His authority, though closely parallel to that of 
the father among ourselves, is not exactly identical 
with it. First of all his influence is introduced into 
the child's life much later than that of the European 
father. Then again, he never enters the intimacy 


of family life, but lives in another hut and often in a 
different village, for, since marriage is patrilocal in the 
Trobriands, his sister and her children have their abode 
in the village of the husband and father. Thus his 
power is exercised from a distance and it cannot 
become oppressive in those small matters which are 
most irksome. He brings into the life of the child, 
whether boy or girl, two elements : first of all, that 
of duty, prohibition and constraint : secondly, 
especially into the life of the boy, the elements of 
ambition, pride and social values, half of that, in fact, 
which makes life worth living for the Trobriander. 
The constraint comes in, in so far as he begins 
to direct the boy's occupations, to require certain of 
his services and to teach him some of the tribal laws 
and prohibitions. Many of these have already been 
inculcated into the boy by the parents, but the kada 
(mother's brother) is always held up to him as the 
real authority behind the rules. 

A boy of six will be solicited by his mother's brother 
to come on an expedition, to begin some work in the 
gardens, to assist in the carrying of crops. In carrying 
out these activities, in his maternal uncle's village 
and together with other members of his clan, the boy 
learns that he is contributing to the hutura of his 
clan ; he begins to feel that this is his own village 
and own people ; to learn the traditions, myths and 
legends of his clan. The child at this stage also 


frequently co-operates with his father, and it is 
interesting to note the difference in the attitude 
he has toward the two elders. The father still 
remains his intimate ; he likes to work with him, 
assist him and learn from him ; but he reahzes more 
and more that such co-operation is based on goodwill 
and not on law, and that the pleasure derived from it 
must be its own reward, but that the glory of it goes 
to a clan of strangers. The child also sees his mother 
receiving orders from her brother, accepting favours 
from him, treating him with the greatest reverence, 
crouching before him like a commoner to a chief. 
He gradually begins to understand that he is his 
maternal uncle's successor, and that he will also be 
a master over his sisters, from whom at this time he 
is already separated by a social taboo forbidding 
any intimacy. 

The maternal uncle is, like the father among us, 
idealized to the boy, held up to him as the person 
who should be pleased, and who must be made the 
model to be imitated in the future. Thus we see that 
most of the elements, though not all, which make 
the father's r61e so difficult in our society, are vested 
among the Melanesians in the mother's brother. 
He has the power, he is idealized, to him the children 
and the mother are subjected, while the father is 
entirely reUeved of all these odious prerogatives and 
characteristics. But the mother's brother introduces 


the child to certain new elements which make life 
bigger, more interesting, and of greater appeal — 
social ambition, traditional glory, pride in his lineage 
and kinship, promises of future wealth, power, and 
social status. 

It must be realized that at the time when our 
European child starts to find its way in our 
complex social relations, the Melanesian girl or boy 
also begins to grasp the principle of kinship which 
is the main foundation of the social order. These 
principles cut across the intimacy of family life and 
rearrange for the child the social world which up 
to now consisted for him of the extended circles 
of family, further family, neighbours and village 
community. The child now learns that he has to 
distinguish above and across these groups two main 
categories. The one consists of his real kinsmen, 
his veyola. To these belong in the first place his 
mother, his brothers and sisters, his maternal 
uncle and all their kinsmen. These are people who 
are of the same substance or the ' same body ' as 
himself. The men he has to obey, to co-operate 
with and to assist in work, war and personal quarrels. 
The women of his clan and of his kinship are strictly 
tabooed sexually for him. The other social category 
consists of the stran^gers or ' outsiders ', tomakava. 
By this name are called all those people who are not 
related by matrilineal ties, or who do not belong to 


the same clan. But this group comprises also the 
father and his relations, male and female, and the 
women whom he may marry or with whom he may 
have love affairs. Now these people, and especially 
the father, stand to him in a very close personal 
relation which, however, is entirely ignored by law 
and moraUty. Thus we have on the one side the 
consciousness of identity and kinship associated with 
social ambitions and pride, but also with constraint 
and sexual prohibition ; and on the other, in the 
relation to the father and his relatives, free friendship 
and natural sentiment as well as sexual liberty, but 
no personal identity or traditional bonds. 


TT TE pass now to the problem of sexual life in the 
third period — the later childhood, as we might 
call it, covering the stage of free play and movement, 
which lasts from about five or six till puberty. I 
kept the discussion of sex separate from that of the 
social influences when dealing with the previous 
period of child life, and I shall do the same here, so 
as to bring out clearly the respective contributions 
of organism and society. 

In modern Europe, according to Freud, there sets 
in at this age a very curious phenomenon : the 
regression of sexuaUty, a period of latency, a lull 
in the development of sexual functions and impulses. 
What makes this latency period especially important 
in the Freudian scheme of neuroses is the amnesia 
which is associated with it, the curtain of complete 
oblivion which falls at this period and which obliterates 
the reminiscences of infantile sexuahty. Remarkably 
enough, this important and interesting contention 
of Freud's is not endorsed by other students. For 
instance, Moll, in his memoir on infantile sexuality 

49 B 


(a very thorough and competent contribution)/ makes 
no mention of any lull in sexual development. On the 
contrary, his account implies a steady and gradual 
increase of sexuality in the child, the curve rising 
in a continuous manner without any kink. It is 
remarkable to 'find that Freud himself at times appears 
to vacillate. Thus of all the periods of childhood 
this one has no clear and explicit chapter devoted 
to it and in one or two places Freud even withdraws 
his contention about its existence.^ Yet, if I may 
affirm on the basis of material derived from personal 
knowledge of well-educated schoolboys, the latency 
period invariably sets in at about the sixth year 
and lasts from two to four years. During this time 
interest in indecencies flags, the lurid yet alluring 
colours which they had fade away, and they are 
repressed and forgotten while new things arise to 
take up the interest and energy. 

How are we to explain the divergency in Freud's 
own views as weU as the ignoring of the facts by other 
students of sex ? 

It is clear that we do not deal here with a 

* A. Moll, Das Sexualleben des Kindes, 1908. 

• The latency period is frequently mentioned, for instance, in 
Drei Abhandlungen, 5th edition, pp. 40, 44, 64 ; Vorlesungen, 1922, 
p. 374. But there is no special treatment of it in any of these books. 
Again, we read, " Die Latenzzeit kann auch entfallen. Sie braucht 
keine Unterbrechung der Sexualbetatigung, der Sexualinteressen 
mit sich zu bringen," Vorlesungen, loc. cit. 


phenomenon deeply rooted in man's organic nature, 
but with one largely if not wholly determined by 
social factors. If we turn to a comparative survey 
of the various layers of society, we perceive without 
difficulty that among the lower classes, especially 
among peasants, the latency period is much less 
pronounced. In order to see matters clearly, let us 
cast back to the previous period of infantile pre- 
genital sexuaUty and see how the two link up. We 
saw in Chapter V that in the lower as well as in the 
higher strata there exists at an early age this strong 
interest in the 'indecent'. Among peasant children, 
however, it appears somewhat later and has a shghtly 
different character. Let us compare once more the 
sources of 'anal-eroticism', as it is called by Freud, 
among the children of the lower and higher classes.^ 
In the nursery of the weU-to-do baby, the natural 
functions, the interest in excretion, are at first 
encouraged, and then suddenly stopped. The nurse 
or mother, who up to a certain point tries to stimulate 
the performance, praises the prompt execution and 
shows the results, discovers at a certain moment that 
the child takes too much interest in it and begins 
to play in a manner that to the grown-up appears 
unclean, though to the child it is perfectly natural. 

^ I would not now use the ugly neologism ' anal-eroticism ', 
but as long as a term is defined there is no harm in borrowing it 
from a dctrine which is being discussed. 


Then the nursery authority steps in, slaps the child, 
makes it an offence, and the interest is violently 
repressed. The child grows up, the reticences, frowns, 
and artificialities begin to surround the natural 
functions with clandestine interest and mysterious 

Those who remember from their own childhood 
how strongly such a repressive atmosphere of 
hints and sous-entendus is felt and how well its 
meaning is understood by the child, recognize that 
the category of ' indecent ' is created by elders. 
From observations of children, moreover, as well 
as from memory, it is easy to ascertain how quickly 
and how soon the children catch up artificial attitudes 
of elders, becoming little prigs, moralists, and snobs. 
Among peasants, conditions are quite different. The 
children are instructed in sexual matters at an early 
age : they cannot help seeing sexual performances 
of their parents and other relatives ; they listen to 
quarrels in which whole lists of sexual obscenities 
and technicalities are recited. They have to deal with 
domestic animals, whose propagation in all its details 
is a matter of great concern to the whole household 
and is freely and minutely discussed. Since they 
are deeply steeped in things natural, they feel less 
incUned to amuse themselves by doing in a clandestine 
manner that which in many ways they can do and 
enjoy openly. The children of the working classes 


stand perhaps midway between the two extremes. 
Hardly in contact with animals, they receive, on the 
other hand, an even greater amount of bedroom 
demonstration and public-house instruction. 

What is the result of these essential differences 
between well-to-do and proletarian children ? First 
of all, the ' indecency ' which among bourgeois children 
is fostered by the repression of the natural curiosities is 
much less pronounced in the lower classes, and comes 
up only later where indecency is already associated 
with ideas of genital sexuality. In the higher classes, 
when the curiosity about indecencies has played 
itself out, and with the leaving of the nursery new 
interests in life crop up, the period of latency now 
sets in and these new interests absorb the child, 
while the absence of knowledge which is usual among 
children of the educated prevents the genital interest 
setting in so early. 

In the lower classes this knowledge and early 
curiosity in genital matters are present at the same 
time and establish a continuity, a steady development 
from the early period to that of full sexual puberty. 

The nature of social influences collaborates with these 
facts to produce a much greater breach of continuity 
in the life of a well-to-do child. While his whole 
life up to the age of six v;as devoted to amusement, 
he has now suddenly to learn and to do school-work. 
The peasant child had already previously been helping 


with the cooking or looking after the younger children, 
or running after the geese and sheep. At this time, 
there is no breach of continuity in his Ufe. 

Thus, while the early childish interest in the indecent 
awakens earUer and in another form in the peasant 
and proletarian child, it is less clandestine, less 
associated with guilt, hence less immoral, less * anal- 
erotic ' and more attached to sex. It passes more 
easily and with more continuity into early sexual 
play, and the period of latency is almost completely 
absent or, at any rate, much less pronounced. This 
explains why psycho-analysis, which deals with neurotic 
well-to-do people, has led to the discovery of this period, 
while the general medical observations of Dr. Moll did 
not detect it. 

But if there could be any doubt about the facts 
of this difference between the classes and about its 
cause, such doubt should disappear when we turn 
to Melanesia. Here certainly the facts are different 
from those found among our educated classes. As 
we saw in Chapter V, the early sexual indecencies, 
clandestine games and interests are absent. In fact, 
it might be said that for these children the categories 
of decent-indecent, pure-impure, do not exist. The 
same reasons which make this distinction weaker 
and less important among our peasants than among 
our bourgeois act even more strongly and directly 
among the Melanesians. In Melanesia there is no 


taboo on sex in general ; there is no putting of any 
veils on natural functions, certainly not in the case of 
a child. When we consider that these children 
run about naked, that their excretory functions 
are treated openly and naturally, that there is no 
general taboo on bodily parts or on nakedness in 
general ; when we further consider that small children 
at the age of three and four are beginning to be aware 
of the existence of such a thing as genital sexuality, 
and of the fact that this will be their pleasure quite 
soon just as other infantile plays will be — ^we can see 
that social factors rather than biological explain the 
difference between the two societies. 

The stage which I am now describing in Melanesia — 
that which corresponds to our latency period — is the 
stage of infantile independence, where small boys 
and girls play together in a sort of juvenile republic. 
Now, one of the main interests of these children 
consists of sexual pastijnes. At an early age children 
are initiated by each other, or sometimes by a slightly 
older companion, into the practices of sex. Naturally 
at this stage they are unable to carry out the act 
properly, but they content themselves with all sorts 
of games in which they are left quite at liberty by their 
elders, and thus they can satisfy their curiosity and 
their sensuality directly and without disguise. 

There can be no doubt that the dominating interest 
of such games is what Freud would call 'genital', 


that they are largely determined by the desire to 
imitate the acts and interests of elder children and 
elders, and that this period is one which is almost 
completely absent from the life of better-class children 
in Europe, and which exists only to a small degree 
among peasants and proletarians. When speaking 
of these amusements of the children, the natives will 
frequently allude to them as ' copulation amusement ' 
{mwaygini kwayta). Or else it is said that they 
are playing at marriage. 

It must not be imagined that all games are sexual. 
Many do not lend themselves at all to it. But there 
are some particular pastimes of small children in which 
sex plays the predominant part. Melanesian children 
are fond of ' playing husband and wife.' A boy 
and girl build a little shelter and call it their home ; 
there they pretend to assume the functions of husband 
and wife, and amongst those of course the most 
important one of sexual intercourse. At other times, 
a group of children will go for a picnic where the 
entertainment consists of eating, fighting, and making 
love. Or they will carry out a mimic ceremonial 
trade exchange, ending up with sexual activities. 
Crude sensual pleasure alone does not seem to satisfy 
them ; in such more elaborate games it must be 
blended with some imaginative and romantic interest. 

A very important point about this infantile sexuality 
is the attitude of the elder generation towards it. 


As I have said, the parents do not look upon it as in 
the least reprehensible. Generally they take it 
entirely for granted. The most they will do is to 
speak jestingly about it to one another, discussing 
the love tragedies and comedies of the child world. 
Never would they dream of interfering or frowning 
disapproval, provided the children show a due amount 
of discretion, that is, do not perform their amorous 
games in the house, but go away somewhere apart 
in the bush. 

But above all the children are left entirely to them- 
selves in their love affairs. Not only is there no 
parental interference, but rarely, if ever, does it come 
about that a man or a woman take a perverse sexual 
interest in children, and certainly they would never 
be seen to mix themselves up in the games in this 
role. Violation of children is imknown, and a 
person who played sexually with a child would be 
thought ridiculous and disgusting. 

An extremely important feature in the sexual 
relations of children is the brother and sister taboo, 
already mentioned. From an early age, when the girl 
first puts on her grass petticoat, brothers and sisters 
of the same mother must be separated from each 
other, in obedience to the strict taboo which enjoins 
that there shall be no intimate relations between them. 
Even earlier, when they first can move about and walk, 
they play in different groups. Later on they never 


consort together socially on a free footing, and above 
all there must never be the sUghtest suspicion of an 
interest of one of them in the love affairs of the other. 
Although there is comparative freedom in pla5dng 
and language between children, not even quite a small 
boy would associate sex with his sisters, still less make 
any sexual allusion or joke in their presence. This 
continues right through Hfe, and it is the highest degree 
of bad form to speak to a brother about his sister's 
love affairs, or vice versa. The imposition of this 
taboo leads to an early breaking up of family hfe, 
since the boys and girls, in order to avoid each other, 
must leave the parental home and go elsewhere. 
With all this, we can perceive the enormous difference 
which obtains in the juvenile sexuality at this 
stage of later childhood between ourselves and the 
Melanesians. While amongst ourselves, in the educated 
classes, there is at this time a break of sexuality 
and a period of latency with amnesia, in Melanesia 
the extremely early beginning of genital interest 
leads to a type of sexuaUty entirely unknown among 
us. From this time, the sexuality of the Melanesians 
will continuously though gradually develop, till it 
reaches puberty. On the condition that one taboo is 
respected in the strictest and most complete manner, 
society gives complete free play to juvenile sexuahty. 



A T an age varjdng with climate and race and 
stretching from about the ninth to the fifteenth 
year, the child enters upon the age of puberty. For 
puberty is not a moment or a turning point but a more 
or less prolonged period of development during which 
the sexual apparatus, the whole system of internal 
secretions and the organism in general are entirely 
recast. We cannot consider puberty as a conditio sine 
qua non of sexual interest or even of sexual activities, 
since non-nubile girls can copulate and immature boys 
are known to have erections and to practise immissio 
penis. But undoubtedly the age of puberty must be 
regarded as the most important landmark in the sexual 
history of the individual. 

Sex is, moreover, so intimately bound up at this stage 
with the other aspects of life that in this chapter we 
shall treat sexual and social matters together and not 
divide them as we did in the case of the two previous 
stages. In comparing here the Trobrianders of 
Melanesia with our own society, it is important to 
note that these savages have no initiation rites at 
puberty. While this will remove one item of extreme 



importance from our discussion, it will allow us on 
the other hand to draw the comparison between 
patriliny and matriliny more clearly and closely, 
since in most other savage societies initiation 
ceremonies completely mask or modify this period. 

In our own society, we have to speak separately 
of the boy and of the girl, for at this point the two 
part company completely in sexual matters. In 
a man's life, puberty means the acquisition of full 
mental powers as well as bodily maturity and the 
final formation of the sexual characters. With his 
new manliness his whole relation to life in general 
changes as deeply as his relation to sexual matters 
and to his position in the family. Beginning with this 
last, we can observe an extremely interesting 
phenomenon which greatly affects his attitude to his 
mother, sister, or other female relatives. The typical 
adolescent bo}'' of our civiHzed communities begins 
to show at the time of puberty an extreme embarrass- 
ment towards his mother, affects scorn and a certain 
brutality towards his sisters and is ashamed before 
his comrades of all his female relatives. Who of us 
does not remember the pangs of ineffable shame 
when, jauntily going along with our school fellows, 
we met suddenly our mother, our aunt, our sister, 
or even our girl cousin and were obliged to greet 
her. There was a feeling of intense guilt, of being 
caught in flagrante delicto. Some boys tried to ignore 


the embarrassing encounter, others more brave blushed 
crimson and saluted, but everyone felt that it was a 
shadow on his social position, an outrage on his 
manliness and independence. Without entering into 
the psychology of this phenomenon, we can see that 
the shame and confusion felt here is of the same type 
as that associated with any breach of good manners. 

This newly acquired manliness affects deeply the 
boy's attitude towards the world, his whole Weltan- 
schauung. He begins to have his independent opinions, 
his personality and his own honour, to maintain his 
position towards authority and intellectual leadership. 
This is a new stage in the relation between father 
and son, another reckoning up and a new testing 
of the father ideal. At this point it succumbs if the 
father is found out to be a fool or a ' bounder ', to be 
a hypocrite or an ' old fogey '. He is usually disposed 
of for life, and in any case loses the chance of effectively 
influencing the boy even if in later life the two should 
come together again. If on the other hand the father 
can stand the extremely severe scrutiny of this epoch 
there is a great chance of his surviving as an ideal 
for life. The reverse is also true, of course, for the 
father as well keenly examines his son at this epoch, 
and is equally critical as to whether the boy comes up 
to his own ideal of what his future successor should be. 

The new attitude towards sex, the recrystallization at 
puberty, exerts a great influence on the boy's attitude 


not only to his father, but to his mother as well. 
The educated boy only now fully realizes the biological 
nature of the bond between his parents and himself. 
If he deeply loves and worships his mother, as is 
usually the case, and if he can continue to ideaUze 
his father, then the idea of his bodily origin from his 
parent's sexual intercourse, though at first making 
a rift in his mental world, can be dealt with. If on 
the other hand he scorns and hates his father, be it 
unavowedly as so often happens, the idea brings 
about a permanent defilement of the mother and 
a besmirching of things most dear to him. 

The new manhood influences above all the boy's 
sexual outlook. Mentally he is ready for knowledge, 
physiologically ready for applying it in Hfe. Usually 
he receives his first lessons in sex at this time, and in 
some form or other starts sexual activities, not so 
often, probably, in the normal, regular manner, but 
frequently through masturbation or nocturnal 
pollutions. This epoch is in many respects the 
dividing of the roads for the boy. Either the 
newly awakened sex impulse, appeaUng to a 
strong temperament and to easy morals, absorbs 
him completely, carries him off his feet once for 
ever in a wave of over-mastering sensuality ; or 
else other interests and moraUty are strong enough 
to stave it off partially or even completely. As 
long as he preserves an ideal of chastity and is able 


to fight for it, the leverage, is there for the lifting 
of the sexual impulses to a higher level. In this, 
of course, the temptations are largely determined 
by the social setting and the mode of life of the boy. 
The racial characteristics of a commimity, its code of 
morals and its cultural values establish great differences 
within European civilization. In certain classes of 
some countries, it is usual for the boy to succumb 
to the disintegrating forces of easy sexuahty. In 
others, he can take his chance. In others, again, 
society relieves him of a great deal of responsibility 
by la5dng down rules of stem morality. 

In his relations to persons of the other sex, there 
appears at first something parallel to his attitude 
towards mother and sister ; a certain embarrassment, 
and polarity of attraction and repulsion. The woman 
who, he feels, can exercise a deep influence on him alarms 
him and fills him with suspicion. He senses in her a 
danger to his awakening independence and manliness. 

At this stage also the new fusion of tenderness with 
sexuaUty which comes about towards the end of 
puberty mixes up infantile memories of maternal 
tenderness with the new elements of sexuaUty. 
Imagination and especially dream fantasies bring 
about horrible confusion and play strange tricks 
on the boy's mind.^ 

^ This conception is more fully elaborated below. Part IV, 
Chapter IX. 


All this refers more especially to the boy belonging 
to the higher, well-to-do classes. If we compare the 
peasant or proletarian youth with him, we see that 
the essential elements are the same, though there is 
perhaps less individual variation and the general 
picture is more sober. 

Thus there is also a period of affective crudeness 
towards mother and sister which is especially notice- 
able in a young peasant. The quarrels with the 
father crop up as a rule with an increased violence 
now that the boy realizes his own forces and his own 
position as a successor, now that he feels a new greed 
for possession and a new ambition for influence. 
Often a regular fight for supremacy begins at this time. 
In sexual matters there is not as violent a crisis and 
this reacts less directly on the parental relation. 
But the main outlines are the same. 

The girl of the educated classes goes through a 
crisis at her first menstruation which, while it 
encroaches on liberty and compUcates hfe, adds to 
its mysterious attraction and is usually eagerly awaited. 
But puberty is less of a turning point socially to a girl ; 
she continues to live at home or to carry on her 
education at a boarding school, but all her occupations 
and her training are in harmony with ordinary family 
life — not taking the modern, professional girl into 
account. Her aim in life is to await marriage. One 
important element in her relation to the family is the 


rivalry between mother and daughter which often sets 
in at this time. How often it makes its appearance 
in a decided, undisguised form ^ is hard to say, but 
there can be no doubt that it introduces a distorted 
element into the typical relations of the ordinary 
family. At this time, also, and not earlier, there 
enters a special tenderness into the relations between 
father and daughter, which not infrequently becomes 
correlated with the maternal rivalry. This is the 
configuration of the Electra complex; it is therefore 
of an entirely different nature from the Oedipus 
complex. Putting on one side the greater hysterical 
tendency of women, for here we are concerned with 
the ground work of normality, the Electra complex 
is less frequent and has less social importance as well 
as a smaller influence on Western culture. On the 
other hand, its influence makes itself more frequently 
felt and the father-daughter incest seems to be 
incomparably more frequent in real occurrence than 
that between mother and son, for various reasons 
of a biological and sociological nature. Since, however, 
our interest in this discussion is mainly in the cultural 
and social influence of the complexes, we cannot 
follow the parallel between the Oedipus and Electra 
complexes in detail. Nor can we enter into a com- 
parison between the higher classes, where the 

^ Such as we find it so powerfully described for instance in the 
very instructive novel of Maupassant, Fort comme la Mort. 



repressions are stronger, where there is more hysteria 
but fewer cases of actual incest occur, and the lower 
classes, where, since the girl's sex interest is frequently 
engaged earlier and more normally, she is less liable 
to hysterical distortions, but suffers more frequently 
from persecution by the father.^ 

Let us now turn to the Trobriand Islands. Puberty 
begins there earlier than with us, but at the same 
time, when it sets in boys and girls have already 
begun their sexual activities. In the social life of the 
individual^ puberty does not constitute a sharp 
turning point as in those savage communities where 
initiation ceremonies exist. Gradually, as he passes 
to manhood, the boy begins to take a more active 
part in economic pursuits and tribal occupations, 
he is considered a young man (ulatile) , and by the end 
of puberty he is a full member of the tribe, ready to 
marry and carry on all his duties as well as to enjoy 
his privileges. The girl, who at the beginning of 
puberty acquires more freedom and independence 
from her family, has also to do more work, amuse 
herself more intensely, and carry on such duties. 

^ Among peasants, the attempts of father on daughter are very 
frequent. This seems especially to be the case among the Latin 
races. I have been told that in Rumania the occurrence of this 
type of incest is very common among peasants, and so it seems to 
be in Italy. In the Canary Islands, I know myself of a few cases of 
father and daughter committing incest, not in a clandestine manner, 
but living openly in a shameless menage and rearing their children. 


ceremonial, economic, and legal, as are entailed by 
full womanhood. 

But the most important change, and the one which 
interests us most, is the partial break-up of the family 
at the time when the adolescent boys and girls cease 
to be permanent inmates of the parental home. For 
brothers and sisters, whose avoidance has begun 
long before in childhood, must now keep an extremely 
strict taboo, so that any possibility of contact while 
engaged in sexual pursuits must be eliminated. This 
danger is obviated by a special institution, the 
bukumatula. This name is given to special houses 
inhabited by groups of adolescent boys and girls. 
A boy as he reaches puberty will join such a house, 
which is owned by some mature youth or young 
widower and tenanted by a number of youths, from 
three to six, who are there joined by their sweethearts.^ 
Thus the parental home is drained completely of its 
adolescent males, though until the boy's marriage 
he will always come back for food, and will also 
continue to work for his household to some extent. 
A girl, on the rare nights of chastity when she is not 
engaged in one bukumatula or another, may return 
to sleep at home. 

What is the attitude towards mother, father, 

^ For a detailed description and analysis of this remarkable 
institution, as close a mimicry of group -marriage as we have on 
record, compare the author's forthcoming Sexual Life of Savages. 


sister or brother into which the sentiments of the 
Melanesian boy and girl crystalUze at this important 
epoch ? As with a modern European boy and girl, 
we see that at this period there is only a final cast, 
a consolidation of what has been in gradual formation 
during the previous stages of life. The mother, 
from whom the child has been weaned — in the widest 
sense of the word — remains still the pivotal point 
of all kinship and relationship for the rest of life. 
The boy's status in society, his duties and privileges, 
are determined with regard to her and her relatives. 
If no one else is there to provide for her, he will have to 
do it, while her house will always be his second 
home. Affection and attachment, prescribed by social 
obligations, remain also deeply founded in real senti- 
ment, and when an adult man dies or suffers mishap, 
his mother will be the one to sorrow and her waihng 
will last longest and be most sincere. Yet there is 
little of the personal friendship, the mutual confidences 
and intimacy which is so characteristic of the mother- 
to-son relationship in our society. The detachment 
from the mother, carried out as we have seen at every 
stage more easily and more thoroughly than with us, 
with fewer premature wrenches and violent 
suppressions, is achieved in a more complete and 
harmonious manner. 

The father at this time suffers a temporary eclipse. 
The boy, who as a child was fairly independent and 


became the member of the small, juvenile republic, 
gains now on the one hand the additional freedom of 
the hukumatula, while on the other he becomes much 
more restricted by his various duties towards his 
kada (maternal uncle). He has less time and less 
interest left for the father. Later on, when friction 
with the maternal uncle makes its appearance, he 
turns, as a rule, to his father once more, and their 
life friendship then becomes settled. At this stage, 
however, when the adolescent has to learn his duties, 
to be instructed in traditions and to study his magic, 
his arts and crafts, his interest in his mother's brother, 
who is his teacher and tutor, is greatest and their 
relations are at their best.^ 

There is one more important difference between 
the Melanesian boy's feeling for his parents and that 
of the educated boy in our own society. With us, 
when at puberty and with social initiation the new 
fiery vision opens before the youth, its glare throws 
a strange shadow on his previous warm feelings for 
mother and father. His own sexuality estranges 
him from his progenitors, embarrasses their relations 
and creates deep complications. Not so in the 

^ The relation between these three, the young man, his father and 
his mother's brother, are in reality somewhat more complicated 
than I have been able to show here, and present an interesting picture 
of the play and clash of the incompatible principles of kinship and 
authority. This subject will be discussed in a forthcoming book 
on kinship. Compare also Crime and Custom, 1926. 


matrilineal society. The absence of the early 
indecency period and of the first struggles against 
parental authority ; the gradual and open taking-up 
of sex ever since it first began to stir in the young 
blood ; above all the attitude of benevolent onlookers 
which the parents take towards the sexuality of 
their young ; the fact of the mother's withdrawing 
completely but gradually from the boy's passionate 
feeUngs ; the father smiling his approval — all this 
brings about the fact that the intensification of 
sexuality at puberty exercises no direct influence 
upon the relation to the parents. 

One relation, that between brother and sister, 
is, however, deeply affected by every increase of 
sexuahty — especially at puberty. This taboo, which 
extends to all free association and excludes the motive 
of sex completely from the relations of the two, affects 
the sexual outlook of both in general. For in the first 
place it must be kept in mind that this taboo is the 
great sexual barrier in a man's life, beyond which it 
is illicit to trespass, and that it constitutes also 
the most important general moral rule. The pro- 
hibition, moreover, which starts in childhood with 
the separation of brothers and sisters and of which 
this separation always remains the main point, extends 
also to all other females of the same clan. Thus the 
sexual world is for the boy divided into two moieties : 
one of these, embracing the women of his own clan, 


is prohibited to him ; the other, to which women 
of the remaining three clans belong, is lawful. 

Let us compare now the brother-sister relation in 
Melanesia and Europe. With us, the intimacy of 
childhood gradually cools off and changes into a 
somewhat constrained relation, in which the sister 
is naturally but not completely divided from her 
brother by social, psychological and biological factors. 
In Melanesia, as soon as any intimacy in play or in 
childish confidences might spring up, the strict taboo 
sets in. The sister remains a mysterious being, 
always near yet never intimate, divided by the 
invisible yet all powerful wall of traditional command 
which gradually changes into a moral and personal 
imperative. The sister remains the only spot on the 
sexual horizon permanently hidden. Any natural 
impulses of infantile tenderness are as systematically 
repressed from the outset as other natural impulses 
are in our children, and the sister becomes thus 
' indecent ' as an object of thought, interest and 
feeling, just as the forbidden things do for our children. 
Later on, as the personal experiences in sexuaHty 
develop, the veil of reserve separating the two thickens. 
Though they have constantly to avoid each other, 
yet, owing to the fact that he is the provider of her 
household, they must constantly keep one another 
in thought and attention. Such artificial and 
premature repression must have its results. The 


psychologists of the Freudian school could easily 
foretell them.- 

In all this I have spoken almost exclusively from 
the point of view of the boy. What is the configura- 
tion of the Melanesian girl's attitude to her family 
as it crystallizes at puberty ? Roughly speaking, 
her attitude does not differ so much from that of 
her European counterpart as is the case with the 
boy. Just because of the brother and sister taboo, 
the Trobriand matriarchy touches the girl less than 
the boy. For, since her brother is strictly forbidden 
to take any interest in her sexual affairs, including 
her marriage, and her mother's brother has also to 
keep aloof from these matters, it is, strangely enough, 
her father who is her guardian as regards matrimonial 
arrangements. So that between father and daughter 
not quite an identical, but a very similar relation exists 
as with us. For among ourselves the friction between 
the female child and her father is normally small, 
and thus the relation approaches nearer to that 
found in the Trobriands between father and child. 
There, on the other hand, the intimacy between a 
grown-up man and an adolescent girl, who, be it 
remembered, is not considered his kinswoman, is 
fraught with some temptation. This is not lessened 
but increased by the fact that though the daughter 
is not actually tabooed by the laws of exogamy, 
yet sexual intercourse between the two is considered 


in the highest degree reprehensible, though it is never 
given the name of suvasova, which means breach 
of exogamy. The reason for this prohibition between 
father and daughter is, of course, simply that it is 
wrong to have sexual intercourse with the daughter 
of the woman with whom you co-habit. We shall 
not be astonished when later, as we trace the influence 
of the typical attitudes between members of the 
family, we shall find that father-daughter incest 
happens in reahty, though it hardly could be called 
an obsession, nor has it any echo in folk-lore. 

With regard to her mother, the general course of 
the relation is more natural than that in Europe, 
though not essentially different. One point of 
difference there is : namely, that the exodus of the 
girl at puberty from the parental home and her 
numerous outside sex interests normally prevent 
the development of mother-daughter rivalries and 
jealousies, though they do not always preclude the 
occurrence of father-daughter incest. Thus, with the 
exception of her attitude to the brother, broadly 
speaking, sentiments similar to those in Europe are 
to be found in a Melanesian girl. 



T T 7E have been comparing the two civilizations, the 
European and the Melanesian, and we have 
seen that there exist deep differences, some of the 
forces by which society moulds man's biological nature 
being essentially dissimilar. Though in each there 
is a certain latitude given to sexual freedom, and a 
certain amount of interference with and regulation of 
the sex instinct, yet in each the incidence of the 
taboo and the play of sexual liberty within its 
prescribed bounds are entirely different. There is 
also a quite dissimilar distribution of authority within 
the family, and correlated with it a different mode 
of counting kinship. We have followed in both 
societies the growth of the average boy or girl 
under these divergent tribal laws and customs. We 
have found that at almost every step there are great 
differences due to the interplay between biological 
impulse and social rule which sometimes harmonize, 
sometimes conflict, sometimes lead to a short bliss, 
sometimes to an inequilibrium fraught, however, 
with possibilities for a future development. At the 
final stage of the child's life-history, after it has 
reached maturity, we have seen its feelings crystallize 



into a system of sentiments towards the mother, 
father, brother, sister, and in the Trobriands, the 
maternal uncle, a system which is typical of each 
society, and which, in order to adapt ourselves to 
psycho-analytic terminology, we called the 'Family 
Complex' or the 'nuclear complex'. 

Now allow me to restate briefly the main features 
of these two ' complexes '. The Oedipus complex, the 
system of attitudes typical of our patriarchal society, 
is formed in early infancy, partly during the transition 
between the first and second stages of childhood, 
partly in the course of the latter. So that, towards 
its end, when the boy is about five or six years old, 
his attitudes are well formed, though perhaps not 
finally settled. And these attitudes comprise already 
a number of elements of hate and suppressed desire. 
In this, I think, our results do not differ to any extent 
from those of psycho-analysis.^ 

In the matrilineal society at that stage, though 
the child has developed very definite sentiments 
towards its father and mother, nothing suppressed, 
nothing negative, no frustrated desire forms a part of 
them. Whence arises this difference ? As we saw, the 
social arrangements of the Trobriand matriliny are in 
almost complete harmony with the biological course of 

^ I have come to realize since the above was written that no 
orthodox or semi-orthodox psycho-analyst would accept my state- 
ment of the ' complex ', or of any aspect of the doctrine. 


development, while the institution of father -right found 
in our society crosses and represses a number of natural 
impulses and inclinations. To trace it more in detail, 
there is the passionate attachment to the mother, 
the bodily desire to cling close to her, which in 
patriarchal institutions is in one way or another 
broken or interfered with ; the influence of our 
morality, which condemns sexuality in children; 
the brutality of the father, especially in the lower 
strata, the atmosphere of his exclusive right to mother 
and child acting subtly but strongly in the higher 
strata, the fear felt by the wife of displeasing her 
husband — all these influences force apart parents and 
children. Even where the rivalry between father 
and child for the mother's personal attention is reduced 
to a minimum, or to naught, there comes, in the second 
period, a distinct clash of social interests between 
father and child. The child is an encumbrance 
and an obstacle to the parental freedom, a reminder 
of age and decUne and, if it is a son, often the menace 
of a future social rivalry. Thus, over and above 
the clash of sensuality, there is ample room for 
social friction between father and child. I say 
advisedly 'child' and not 'boy', for, according 
to our results, the sex difference between the children 
does not play any great part at this stage, nor has a 
closer relation between father and daughter as yet 
made its appearance. 


All these forces and influences are absent from 
the matrilineal society of the Trobriands. First of 
all — and that has, hien entendu, nothing to do with 
matriliny — there is no condemnation of sex or of 
sensuality as such, above all, no moral horror at the 
idea of infantile sexuality. The sensuous clinging 
of the child to his mother is allowed to take its natural 
course till it plays itself out and is diverted by other 
bodily interests. The attitude of the father to the 
child during these two early periods is that of a near 
friend and helper. At the time when our father makes 
himself pleasant at best by his entire absence from 
the nursery, the Trobriand father is first a nurse 
and then a companion. 

The development of pre-sexual life at this stage 
also differs in Europe and Melanesia ; the repressions 
of the nursery among us, especially in the higher 
classes, develop a tendency towards clandestine 
inquisitions into indecent things, especially excretory 
functions and organs. Among the savages we find 
no such period. Now this infantile pre-genital 
indecency establishes distinctions between the decent- 
indecent, the pure-impure, and the indecent, parent- 
proof compartment reinforces and gives additional 
depth to the taboo which is suddenly cast over certain 
relations to the mother, that is to the premature 
banishment from her bed and bodily embraces. 

So that here also the complications of our society 


are not shared by the children in the Trobriands. 
At the next stage of sexuality we find a no less relevant 
difference. In Europe there is a latency period 
more or less pronounced, which implies a breach of 
continuity in the sexual development and, according 
to Freud, serves to reinforce many of our repressions 
and the general amnesia, and to create many dangers 
in the normal development of sex. On the other hand, 
it also represents the triumph of other cultural and 
social interests over sexuahty. Among the savages 
at this stage, sex in an early genital form — a form 
almost unknown among ourselves — establishes itself 
foremost among the child's interests, never to be 
dislodged again. This, while in many respects it is 
culturally destructive, helps the gradual and 
harmonious weaning of the child from the family 

With this we have entered already into the second 
half of the child's development, for the period of 
sexual latency in our society belongs to this part. 
When we consider these two later stages which form 
the second half of the development, we find another 
profound difference. With us during this early period 
of puberty, the Oedipus complex, the attitudes of the 
boy towards his parents, only soUdify and crystallize. 
In Melanesia, on the other hand, it is mainly 
during this second epoch, in fact almost exclusively 
then, that any complex is formed. For only at this 


period is the child submitted to the system of repressions 
and taboos which begin to mould his nature. To 
these forces he responds, partly by adaptation, partly 
by developing more or less repressed antagonisms 
and desires, for human nature is not only malleable 
but also elastic. 

The repressing and moulding forces in Melanesia 
are twofold — the submission to matriarchal tribal 
law, and the prohibitions of exogamy. The first is 
brought about by the influence of the mother's brother, 
who, in appeahng to the child's sense of honour, 
pride and ambition, comes to stand to him in a relation 
in many respects analogous to that of the father among 
us. On the other hand, both the efforts which he 
demands and the livalry between successor and 
succeeded introduce the negative elements of jealousy 
and resentment. Thus an 'ambivalent' attitude is 
formed in which veneration assumes the acknowledged 
dominant place, while a repressed hatred manifests 
itself only indirectly. 

The second taboo, the prohibition of incest, surrounds 
the sister, and to a lesser degree other female relatives 
on the maternal side, as well as clanswomen, with a veil 
of sexual mystery. Of all this class of women, the sister 
is the representative to whom the taboo applies most 
stringently. We noted that this severing taboo, 
entering the boy's life in infancy, cuts short the 
incipient tenderness towards his sister which is the 


natural impulse of a child. This taboo also, since it 
makes even an accidental contact in sexual 
matters a crime, causes the thought of the 
sister to be always present, as well as consistently 

Comparing the two systems of family attitudes 
briefly, we see that in a patriarchal society, the infantile 
rivalries and the later social functions introduce into 
the attitude of father and son, besides mutual attach- 
ment, also a certain amount of resentment and dislike. 
Petween mother and son, on the other hand, the 
premature separation in infancy leaves a deep, 
unsatisfied craving which, later on, when sexual 
interests come in, is mixed up in memory with the 
new bodily longings, and assumes often an erotic 
character which comes up in dreams and other 
fantasies. In the Trobriands there is no friction 
between father and son, and all the infantile craving 
of the child for its mother is allowed gradually to 
spend itself in a natural, spontaneous manner. The 
ambivalent attitude of veneration and dislike is felt 
between a man and his mother's brother, while the 
repressed sexual attitude of incestuous temptation 
can be formed only towards his sister. Applying to 
each society a terse, though somewhat crude formula, 
we might say that in the Oedipus complex there is 
the repressed desire to kill the father and marry the 
mother, while in the matrilineal society of the 


Trobriands the wish is to marry the sister and to 
kill the maternal uncle. 

With this, we have summarized the results of our 
detailed inquiry, and given an answer to the first 
problem set out at the beginning, that is, we have 
studied the variation of the nuclear complex with 
the constitution of the family, and we have shown 
in what manner the complex depends upon some of 
the features of family life and sexual morals. 

We are indebted to psycho-analysis for the discovery 
that there exists a typical configuration of sentiments 
in our society, and for a partial explanation, mainly 
concerned with sex, as to why such a complex must 
exist. In the foregoing pages we were able to give 
an outline of the nuclear complex of another society, a 
matriUneal one, where it has never been studied before. 
We found that this complex differs essentially from the 
patriarchal one, and we have shown why it must 
differ and what social forces bring it about. We have 
drawn our comparison on the broadest basis, and, 
without neglecting sexual factors, we have also system- 
atically drawn in the other elements. The result 
is important, for, so far, it has never been suspected 
that another type of nuclear complex might be in 
existence. By my analysis, I have established that 
Freud's theories not only roughly correspond to human 
psychology, but that they follow closely the modifica- 
tion in human nature brought about by various 


constitutions of society. In other words, I have 
established a deep correlation between the type of 
society and the nuclear complex found there. While 
this is in a sense a confirmation of the main tenet of 
Freudian psychology, it might compel us to modify 
certain of its features, or rather to make some of its 
formulae more elastic. To put it concretely, it appears 
necessary to draw in more systematically the correla- 
tion between biological and social influences ; not 
to assume the universal existence of the Oedipus 
complex, but in studying every type of civilization, 
to establish the special complex which pertains to it. 





TT now rerpains to proceed to the study of the second 
problem posed in the first part of this volume ; that 
is to investigate whether the matriHneal complex, 
so entirely different in its genesis and its character 
from the Oedipus complex, exercises also a different 
influence on tradition and social organization ; and to 
show that in the social life, as well as in the folk-lore, of 
these natives their specific repressions manifest them- 
selves unmistakably. Whenever the passions, kept 
normally within traditional bounds by rigid taboos, 
customs and legal penalties, break through in crime, 
perversion, aberration, or in one of those dramatic 
occurrences which shake from time to time the hum- 
drum life of a savage community — then these passions 
reveal the matriarchal hatred of the maternal uncle 
or the incestuous wishes towards the sister. The 
folk-lore of these Melanesians also mirrors the 
matrilineal complex. The examination of myth, 
fairy tales and legend, as well as of magic, will show 



that the repressed hatred of the maternal uncle, 
ordinarily masked by conventional reverence and 
solidarity, breaks through in those narratives con- 
structed on the model of the day -dream and dictated 
by repressed longings. 

Especially interesting is the magic of love of these 
natives and the mythology connected with it. All 
sexual attraction, all power of seduction is believed 
to reside in the magic of love. This magic again the 
natives regard as founded in a dramatic occurrence 
of the past, narrated in a strange tragic myth of 
brother and sister incest. Thus the position established 
by the description of social relations within the family, 
and by an analysis of kinship, can also be independently 
demonstrated by the study of the culture of these 
Melanesian natives. 



nnHE evidence adduced in this part of the essay is 
not quite homogeneous. While on some points 
I have had full information, I shall have to confess 
my ignorance or only incomplete knowledge in others, 
and there I shaU indicate the problem rather than 
solve it. This is due partly to my lack of expert 
knowledge of mental disease, partly to my having 
found it impossible to psycho-analyze the natives by 
the orthodox technique; partly to an unavoidable 
unevenness in the material, especially that which 
I collected among other tribes where I resided for a 
much shorter time and worked under less favourable 
conditions than in the Trobriands, 

I shall start with the weakest items in my repertoire. 
Here comes first the question of neurosis and mental 
disease. We have seen in the comparative account of 
the child's development among ourselves and in the 
Trobriands that the matrilineal complex is formed 
later in the life of a child, that it is formed outside 
the intimacy of the family circle, that it entails fewer 
shocks, if any, that it is due mainly to the play of 
rivalry, while its erotic thwartings do not go to the 



roots of infantile sexuality. Since this is so, the 
Freudian theory of neurosis would lead us to 
expect a much smaller prevalence of those neuroses 
(ilbertragungsneurosen) due to the traumas of child- 
hood. It is a great pity that a competent alienist 
has not been able to examine the Trobrianders under 
the same conditions as myself, for I think he could 
throw some interesting sidelights upon the assumptions 
of psycho-analysis. 

When studying the Trobrianders, it would be futile 
for an ethnographer to compare them with Europeans, 
for with us there are innumerable other factors which 
complicate the picture and contribute to the formation 
of mental disease. But some thirty miles south of the 
Trobriands there are the Amphlett Islands, inhabited 
by people essentially similar in race, custom, and 
language, but who differ, however, very much in social 
organization, have strict sexual morals, that is, regard 
pre-nuptial sexual intercourse with disapproval and 
have no institutions to support sexual license, 
while their family life is much more closely knit. 
Though matrilineal, they have a much more developed 
patriarchal authority, and this, combined with the 
sexual repressiveness, establishes a picture of child- 
hood more similar to our own.^ 

1 For a description of some customs and features of the culture 
of the natives of the Amphlett Island, see the author's Argonauts 
of the Western Pacific, chap. xi. 


Now even with my own limited knowledge of the 
subject, I received quite a different impression of the 
neurotic dispositions of these natives. In the 
Trobriands, though I knew scores of natives intimately 
and had a nodding acquaintance with many more, I 
could not name a single man or woman who was 
hysterical or even neurasthenic. Nervous tics, com- 
pulsory actions or obsessive ideas were not to be 
found. In the system of native pathology, based, of 
course, on belief in black magic, but reasonably true to 
the symptoms of disease, there are two categories of 
mental disorder — nagowa, which corresponds to 
cretinism, idiocy, and is also given to people who have 
a defect of speech ; and gwayluwa, which corresponds 
roughly to mania, and comprises those who from time 
to time break out into acts of violence and deranged 
behaviour. The natives of the Trobriands know well 
and recognize that in the neighbouring islands of the 
Amphletts and d'Entrecasteaux there are other types 
of black magic which can produce effects on the mind 
different from those known to themselves, of which 
the symptoms are according to their accounts com- 
pulsory actions, nervous tics and various forms of 
obsession. And during my few months' stay in the 
Amphletts, my first and strongest impression was 
that this was a community of neurasthenics. Coming 
from the open, gay, hearty and accessible Trobrianders, 
it was astonishing to find oneself among a community 


of people distrustful of the newcomer, impatient in 
work, arrogant in their claims, though easily cowed 
and extremely nervous when tackled more energetic- 
ally. The women ran away as I landed in their villages 
and kept in hiding the whole of my stay, with the 
exception of a few old hags. Apart from this general 
picture,, I at once found a number of people affected 
with nervousness whom I could not use as informants, 
because they would either lie in some sort of fear, 
or else become excited and offended over any more 
detailed questioning. It is characteristic that in the 
Trobriands even the spiritualistic mediums are poseurs 
rather than abnormal people. And while in the 
Trobriands black magic is practised in a ' scientific ' 
manner by men, that is by methods which present small 
claim to the supernatural, in the islands of the south 
there are ' flying wizards ' who practise the magic 
which in other parts belongs only to semi-fabulous 
witches, and who make at first sight a quite abnormal 

In another community among whom I served my 
ethnographic apprenticeship, and whom I therefore 
did not study with the same methods or come to know 
as intimately as I did the Trobrianders, the conditions 
are even more repressive than in the Amphlett Islands. 
The Mailu, inhabiting a portion of the south coast of 
New Guinea, are patriUneal, have a pronounced paternal 
authority in the family, and a fairly strict code of 


repressive sexual morals. ^ Among these natives, I had 
noted a number of people whom I had classed as 
neurasthenics, and therefore useless as ethnographic 

But aU these tentative remarks, though they are not 
sheer guesses, are intended only to raise the problem, 
and to indicate what the solution would most probably 
be. The problem would therefore be : to study a 
number of matrilineal and patriarchal communities 
of the same level of culture, to register the variation 
of sexual repression and of the family constitution, 
and to note the correlation between the amount of 
sexual and family repression and the prevalence of 
hysteria and compulsion neurosis. The conditions in 
Melanesia, where side by side we find communities 
living under entirely different conditions, are like a 
naturally arranged experiment for this purpose. 

Another point which might be interpreted in favour of 
the Freudian solution of this problem is the correlation 
of sexual perversions with sexual repression. Freud has 
shown that there is a deep connection between the course 
of infantile sexuality and the occurrence of perversion 
in later life. On the basis of his theory, an entirely 

^ Compare the writer's monograph on " The Natives of Mailu " 
in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Australia, vol. 39, 1915, 
No information on mental disease is contained there. 'I had hoped 
to return to the district and the essay was published cis a preliminary 
account in which I did not include all I knew and had noted, thinking 
of republishing it in a fuller form. 


lax community like that of the Trobrianders, who do 
not interfere with the free development of infantile 
sexuality, should show a minimum of perversions. 
This is fully confirmed in the Trobriands. Homo- 
sexuality was known to exist in other tribes and 
regarded as a filthy and ridiculous practice. It cropped 
up in the Trobriands only with the influence of white 
man, more especially of white man's morality. The 
boys and girls on a Mission Station, penned in separate 
and strictly isolated houses, cooped up together, had 
to help themselves out as best they could, since that 
which every Trobriander looks upon as his due and 
right was denied to them. According to very careful 
inquiries made of non-missionary as well as missionary 
natives, homosexuality is the rule among those 
upon whom white man's morality has been forced in 
such an irrational and unscientific manner. At any 
rate, there were a few cases in which ' evil doers ' 
caught in flagrante delicto, were ignominiously banished 
from the face of God back into the villages, where one 
of them tried to continue it, but had to give up under 
the pressure of the native morals, expressed in scorn 
and derision. I have also reason to suppose that 
perversions are much more prevalent in the Amphlett 
and d'Entrecasteaux archipelago in the south, but 
again I have to regret that I was not able to study this 
important subject in detail. 



XTOW we have to study how the integral sentiment 

of the matrihneal family in the Trobriands 

expresses itself in the culture and social organization 

of the natives. If we pushed this problem too deep it 

would indeed lead us to a minute examination from this 

point of view of practically every manifestation of their 

tribal life. We shall have to make a selection and pick 

out the most relevant domains of fact. These can be 

divided into two categories : (i) the free fantasies, and 

(2) the data of folk-lore. To the first class belong those 

products of individual imagination such as dreams, 

day-dreams, personal desires and ideals which, coming 

from the individual's own life, are shaped by the 

endo-psychic forces of his personality. In this class 

can be reckoned not only the manifestations of fantasies 

in thought and dream, but also in deed. For a crime 

Or a sin or an act which outrages pubhc opinion 

and decency is committed when the repressive forces 

of law and moraUty are broken by the repressed 

passions. In such deeds we can measure both the 

strength of the ideal and the depth of the passion. 

We shall turn now to this first class of dreams and 



deeds in which the individual shakes off temporarily 
the shackles of custom and reveals the repressed 
elements and the conflict with the repressing forces. 

Dreams and day-dreams are not an easy subject for, 
study among the Melanesians of the Trobriand Islands. 
It is a remarkable and characteristic feature of these 
natives, in which they seem to differ from other 
savages, that they apparently dream little, have little 
interest in their dreams, seldom relate them spon- 
taneously, do not regard the ordinary dream as having 
any prophetic or other importance, and have no code 
of symbolic explanation whatever. When I tackled 
the subject directly, as I often did, and asked my 
informants whether they had dreamt, and, if so, what 
their dreams had been, the answer was usually negative, 
with rare exceptions, to which we will return. Is this 
absence of dreams, or rather of interest in dreams, due 
to the fact that we are dealing with a non-repressed 
society, a society among whom sex as such is in no way 
restricted? Is it so because their ' complex ' is weak, 
appears late, and has few infantile elements ? This 
rarity of free dreams and the absence of strong effect, 
hence absence of remembrance, point to the same 
conclusion as the absence of neurosis, that is, to the 
correctness in broad outline of the Freudian theory. 
For this theory affirms that the main cause of dreams 
is unsatisfied sexual appetite, and especially such 
sexual or quasi-sexual impulses as are repressed 


violently in infancy. To this question one could only 
obtain a satisfactory answer by collecting rich com- 
parative material among two communities of similar 
culture and mode of living but with different repressions. 
I have used so far the expression ' free dreams ', for 
there is a class of dreams which it is difficult to range, 
whether with the free or with the fixed fantasies, since 
they run on lines prescribed by tradition and could be 
called ' official dreams '. Such, for instance, are dreams 
in which a man leading an enterprise or carrying out 
some task is supposed to dream under certain circum- 
stances about the object of his enterprise. The leaders 
of fishing excursions dream about the weather, about 
the place where the shoals may appear, about the 
best date for the expedition, and they give their orders 
and instructions accordingly. Those in charge of the 
overseas expeditions called Kula are often supposed 
to have dreams about the success of their ceremonial 
trading. Above all the magicians have dreams associ- 
ated with the performance of their magic. There is 
also another form of typical or traditional dream 
associated with magic, that, namely, which comes 
about as the direct result of a spell or of a rite. Thus, in 
the ceremonial overseas trading there is a certain spell 
which acts directly on the mind of the partner, induces 
in him a dream, and this dream makes the partner 
desire the exchange. Most love magic is supposed 
to produce a dream which awakens the amorous wish. 


Thus these natives, remarkably enough, reverse the 
Freudian theory of, dreams, for to them the dream is 
the cause of the wish,^ In reahty, this class of traditional 
dreams is very much within the lines of the Freudian 
theory. For they are constructed as a projection on 
to the victim of the magician's own desire. The victim 
of love magic feels in her dream an itching, a craving 
which is the same as the state of mind of the performer 
of the magic. The Kula partner under the influence of 
magic is supposed to dream of glorious scenes of 
exchange which form the very vision dominating the 
wishes of the performer. 

Nor are such dreams merely spoken of and only 
supposed to exist. Very frequently the magician him- 
self would come and tell me that he had dreamt about 
a good yield in fishing, and would organize an expedition 
on the strength of it. Or a garden wizard would speak 
of a dream he had had about a long drought, and there- 
fore order certain things to be done. During the 
annual ceremonial feast in honour of dead ancestors I 
had on two occasions opportunities of noting dreams 
of natives. In both cases the dream referred to the 
proceedings, and in one the dreamer claimed to have 
dreamt that he had had a conversation with the spirits, 
who were not satisfied with things. Another class of 

^ Cf. also my Argonauts of the Western Pacific, chapter on magic 
and detailed descriptions of the rites and spells in the course of 
the narrative. 


typical dream is concerned with the birth of babies. 
In these the future mother has a sort of dream annuncia- 
tion from one of her dead relatives.^ 

Now one of the typical or official dreams is the sexual 
dream, which interests us here more especially. A man 
will dream that a woman visits him at night ; in 
dream he will have congress with her, and he will 
awake finding the discharge of semen on the mat. 
This he will conceal from his wife, but he will 
try to follow up the dream actively in real life and 
initiate an intrigue with the woman. For this dream 
means that she who visited him had performed love 
magic and that she desires him. 

About such dreams I had a number of personal 
confidences, followed by the story of the subsequent 
efforts of the man at establishing an intrigue with his 
dream visitor. 

Now, naturally, as soon as I was told by the natives 
about their erotic dreams, I was at once keenly on the 
scent of incestuous dreams. To the question : " Do 
you ever dream of your mother in this way ? " the 
answer would be a calm, unshocked negation. " The 
mother is forbidden — only a tonagowa (imbecile) would 
dream such a thing. She is an old woman. No such 
thing would happen." But whenever the question 
would be put about the sister, the answer would be quite 

^ Cf, ' Baloma ' — article in the Journal of the R. Anthrop. Inst., 


different, with a strong affective reaction. Of course I 
knew enough never to ask such a question directly of 
a man, and never to discuss it in company. But even 
asking in the form of whether ' other people ' could 
ever have such dreams, the reaction would be that of 
indignation and anger. Sometimes there would be no 
answer at all ; after an embarrassed pause another 
subject would be taken up by the informant. Some, 
again, would deny it seriously, others vehemently and 
angrily. But, working out the question bit by bit with 
my best informants, the truth at last appeared, and I 
found that the real state of opinion is different. It is 
actually well known that ' other people ' have such 
dreams — " a man is sometimes sad, ashamed, and ill- 
tempered. Why ? Because he has dreamt that he had 
connection with his sister." " This made me feel 
ashamed," such a man would say. I found that this is, 
in fact, one of the typical dreams known to exist, 
occurring frequently, and one which haunts and 
disturbs the dreamer. That this is so, we will find 
confirmed by other data, especially in myth and legend. 
Again, the brother-sister incest is the most repre- 
hensible form of breach of the rules of exogamy — 
which institution makes it illicit to have connection with 
any woman of the same clan. But though the brother- 
sister incest is regarded with the utmost horror, a 
breach of clan exogamy is a thing both smart and 
desirable, owing to the piquant difficulties in carrying 


it out. In accordance with this,, dreams about clan 
incest are very frequent. Thus, comparing the different 
types of incestuous dreams, there is every reason to 
assume that the mother hardly ever appears in them 
and, if she does, these dreams leave no deep impression ; 
that the more distant female relatives are dreamt of 
frequently, and that the impression left is pleasant ; 
while incestuous dreams about the sister occur and 
leave a deep and painful memory. This is what might 
have been expected, for, as we saw when following the 
development of their sexuality, there is no temptation 
in the case of the mother, a violent and strongly 
repressed one towards the sister, and a spicy, not very 
repressed prohibition about the clans woman. 

Brother and sister inces.t is regarded with such 
horror by the natives that at first an observer, even well 
acquainted with their Ufe, would confidently affirm 
that it would never occur, though a Freudian might 
have his suspicions. And these, on closer search, would 
be found fully justified. Incest between brother and 
sister existed even in olden days, and there are certain 
family scandals told especially about the ruhng clan of 
the Malasi. Nowadays, when the ancient morals and 
institutions break down under the influence of spurious 
Christian morality and the white man's so-called law 
and order is introduced, the passions repressed by 
tribal tradition break through even more violently 
and openly. I have three or four cases on record in 


which public opinion definitely, though in whispered 
undertones, accused a brother of incestuous relations 
with his sister. One case, however, stands out, for it 
was a lasting intrigue famous for its effrontery, for the 
notorious character of the hero and heroine, and for 
the scandalous stories spun around it. 

Mokadayu, of Okopukopu, was a famous singer. 
Like all of his profession, he was no less renowned for 
his success with ladies. " For," say the natives, 
" the throat is a long passage like the wila (vagina), 
and the two attract each other." " A man who has 
a beautiful voice will like women very much and they 
will like him." Many stories are told of how he slept 
with all the wives of the chief in Olivilevi, how he 
seduced this and that married woman. For a time, 
Mokadayu had a brilliant and very lucrative career 
as a spiritualistic medium, extraordinary phenomena 
happening in his hut, especially dematerializations of 
various valuable objects thus transported to the spirit 
land. But he was unmasked, and it was proved that 
the dematerialized objects had merely remained in his 
own possession. 

Then there came about the dramatic incident of his 
incestuous love with his sister. She was a very beautiful 
girl, and, being a Trobriander, she had, of course, many 
lovers. Suddenly she withdrew all her favours and 
became chaste. The youth of the village, who confided 
to each other their banishment from her favours. 


decided to find out what was the matter. It soon 
appeared that, whoever might be the privileged rival, 
the scene must be laid in her parental house. One 
evening when both parents were away, a hole was made 
in the thatch and through it the discarded lovers saw 
a sight which shocked them deeply ; brother and sister 
were caught in flagrante delicto. A dreadful scandal 
broke out in the village, which, in olden days, would 
certainly have end^ed in the suicide of the guilty pair. 
Under the present conditions they were able to brave 
it out and lived in incest for several months till she 
married and left the village. 

Besides the actual brother and sister incest, there is, 
as I have said, a breach of exogamous rules which is 
called suvasova. A woman of the same clan is for- 
bidden to a man under the penalty of shame and an 
eruption of boils all over the body. Against this second 
ailment there is a magic, which, as many of my 
informants told me with a self-satisfied smirk, is 
absolutely efficacious. The moral shame of such 
incidents is in reality small, and as with many other 
rules of official morality, he who breaks it is a smart 
fellow. A young man who is a read Don Juan, and who 
has a good conceit of himself, will scorn the unmarried 
girls, and try always to have an intrigue with a married 
woman, especially a chief's wife, or else commit acts 
of suvasova. The expression ' suvasova yoku ', 
" Oh, thou exogamy breaker ! " sounds something 


like, " Oh, you gay dog ! " and is a facetious com- 

To complete the picture, the negative evidence may 
be stated here that not one single case of mother-son 
incest could be found, not even a suspicion of it, though 
the loudness and stringency of the taboo is by no means 
so great as in the brother-sister incest. In the summary 
given above of the typical family sentiments among the 
Trobrianders, I have stated that the relations between 
father and daughter are the only ones built up on the 
same pattern as in a patriarchal society. As could be 
expected therefore, father-daughter incest is of by no 
means rare occurrence. Two or three cases in which 
there seem to be no doubt whatever are on record. 
One of them concerned a girl, who, besides her relations 
with her father, was the sweetheart of a local boy then 
in my service. He wanted to marry her, and appealed 
to me for financial and moral support in this enterprise ; 
I therefore had full details of the incest, which left me 
in no doubt whatever about the relationship and its 
long duration. 

So far we have spoken about the sexual taboo and 
the repressed wish to break it, which finds expression 
in dreams, in acts of crime and passion. There is, 
however, another relation fraught with repressed 
criminal desires, that of a man towards his matriarch, 
the brother of his mother. With regard to dreams, 
there is one interesting fact to be noted here : the 


belief, namely, that in prophetic dreams of death it 
will always be a veyola (real kinsman), usually the 
sister's son, who will foredream his uncle's death. 
Another important fact belonging to the sphere of 
action and not of dreams is connected with witchcraft. 
A man who has acquired the black magic of disease 
must choose his first victim from among his near 
maternal relatives. Very often a man is said to choose 
his own mother. So that when anyone is known to be 
learning sorcery, his real kinsmen, that means his 
maternal relatives, are always frightened and on the 
look out for personal danger. 

In the chronicles of actual crime, there are also 
several cases to be registered, bearing on our 
problem. One of them happened in the village of 
Osapola, half an hour away from where I lived at that 
time, and I knew the actors well. There were three 
brothers, the eldest blind. The youngest one used 
always to take the betel nut before it properly ripened 
and deprive the blind man of his share. The bhnd man 
one day got in a dreadful fury and, seizing an axe, 
somehow managed to wound the youngest brother. 
The middle one then took a spear and killed the bhnd 
one. He was sentenced to twelve months' imprison- 
ment by the white resident magistrate. The natives 
regarded this as an outrageous injustice. The killing 
of one brother by another is a purely internal matter, 
certainly a dreadful crime and an awful tragedy, 


but one with which the outer world is in no way con- 
cerned, and it can only stand by and show its horror and 
pity. There are other cases of violent quarrels, fights, 
and one or two more murders within the matrilineal 
family, which I have on record. 

Of parricide, on the other hand, there is not one single 
case to be cited. Yet to the natives, as I have said, 
parricide would be no special tragedy, and would 
be merely a matter to be settled with the father's 
own clan. 

Apart from the dramatic events, the crimes and 
tragedies which shake the tribal order to its very 
foundations, there are the small events which indicate 
merely the boiling of the passions under the apparently 
firm and quiet surface. For, as we saw, society builds 
up its traditional norms and ideals, and sets up 
trammels and barriers to safeguard them. Yet these 
very trammels provoke certain emotional reactions. 

Nothing surprised me so much in the course of my 
sociological researches as the gradual perception of an 
undercurrent of desire and inclination running counter 
to the trend of convention, law and morals. Mother- 
right, the principle that unity of kinship exists only 
in the mother line, and that this unity of kinship should 
claim all affection, as well as all duties and loyalties, 
is the dictate of tradition. But in reality friendship and 
affection to the father, community of personal interest 
and desires with him, combined with the wish to shake 


off the exogamous trammels of the clan — these are the 
live forces which flow from personal inclination and 
the experiences of individual life. And these forces 
contribute much to fan ever-present sparks of enmity 
between brothers, and between the mother's brother 
and the nephew. So that in the real feelings of the 
individual, we have, so to speak, a sociological negative 
of the traditional principle of matriliny.^ 

^ This point has been elaborated by the writer in Crime and 
Custom, 1926. 



TT TE now proceed to the discussion of folk-lore in 
relation to the typical sentiments of the matri- 
lineal family, and with this we enter the best cultivated 
plot on the boundary of psycho-analysis and anthro- 
pology. It has long been recognized that for one reason 
or another the stories related seriously about ancestral 
times and the narratives told for amusement correspond 
to the desires of those among whom they are current. 
The school of Freud maintain, moreover, that folk- 
lore is especially concerned with the satisfaction of 
repressed wishes by means of fairy tales and legends ; 
and that this is the case also \vith proverbs, typical 
jokes and sayings and stereotyped modes of abuse. 

Let us begin with these last. Their relation to the 
unconscious must not be interpreted in the sense that 
they satisfy the repressed cravings of the person abused, 
or even of the abuser. For instance, the expression 
widely current among oriental races and many savages, 
' eat excrement,' as well as in a slightly modified form 
among the Latins, satisfies directly the wish of neither. 
Indirectly it is only meant to debase and disgust the 
person thus addressed. Every form of abuse or bad 



language contains certain propositions fraught with 
strong emotional possibilities. Some bring into play 
emotions of disgust and shame ; others again draw 
attention to, or impute, certain actions which are 
considered abominable in a given society, and thus 
wound the feelings of the listener. Here belongs 
blasphemy, which in European culture reaches its 
zenith of perfection and complexity in the innumerable 
variations of ' Me cago en Dios ! ' pullulating wherever 
the sonorous Spanish is spoken. Here, also, belong 
all the various abuses by reference to social position, 
despised or degraded occupations, criminal habits, 
and the like, all of them very interesting sociologically, 
for they indicate what is considered the lowest depth 
of degradation in that culture. 

The incestuous type of swearing, in which the person 
addressed is invited to have connection with a forbidden 
relative, usually the mother, is in Europe the speciahty 
of the Slavonic nations, among whom the Russians 
easily take the lead, with the numerous combinations 
of ' Yob twayu mat ' (' Have connection viith thy 
mother'). This type of swearing interests us most, 
because of its subject, and because it plays an important 
part in the Trobriands. The natives there have three 
incestuous expressions : ' Kwoy inani' — ' Cohabit with 
thy mother ' ; ' Kwoy lumuta ' — ' cohabit with thy 
sister ' ; and ' Kwoy um kwava ' — ' cohabit with thy 
wife.' The combination of the three sayings is curious 


in itself, for we see, side by side, the most lawful and 
the most illicit types of intercourse used for the same 
purpose of offending and hurting. The gradation of 
intensity is still more remarkable. For while the 
invitation to maternal incest is but a mild term used 
in chaff or as a joke, as we might say, ' Oh, go to 
Jericho ', the mention of sister incest in abuse is a 
most serious offence, and one used only when real 
anger is aroused. But the worst insult, one which I 
have known to be seriously used at the most twice, 
and once, indeed, it was among the causes of the 
incident of fratricide described above, is the imperative 
to have connection with the wife. This expression 
is so bad that I learnt of its existence only after a long 
sojourn in the Trobriands, and no native would 
pronounce it but in whispers, or consent to make any 
jokes about that incongruous mode of abuse. 

What is the psychology of this gradation ? It is 
obvious that it stands in no distinct relation to the 
enormity or unpleasantness of the act. The maternal 
incest is absolutely and completely out of the question, 
yet it is the mildest abuse. Nor can the criminality 
of the action be the reason for the various strengths of 
the swearing, for the least criminal, in fact the lawful 
connection, is the most offensive when imputed. The 
real cause is the plausibility and the reality of the act, 
and the feeUng of shame, anger, and social degradation 
at the barriers of etiquette being pulled down and the 


naked reality brought to light. For the sexual intimacy 
between husband and wife is masked by a most rigid 
etiquette, not so strict of course as that between 
brother and sister, but directly aiming at the elimina- 
tion of any suggestive modes of behaviour. Sexual 
jokes and indecencies must not be pronounced in the 
company of the two consorts. And to drag out the 
personal, direct sexuality of the relation in coarse 
language is a mortal offence to the sensitiveness of the 
Trobrianders. This psychology is extremely interesting, 
just because it discloses that one of the main forces of 
abuse lies in the relation between the reality and 
plausibility of a desire or action and its conventional 

The relation between the abuse by mother and by 
sister incest is made clear by the same psychology. 
Its strength is measured mainly by the likehhood of 
reality corresponding to the imputation. The idea of 
mother incest is as repugnant to the native as sister 
incest, probably even more. But just because, as we 
saw, the whole development of the relationship and of 
sexual life makes incestuous temptations of the mother 
almost absent, while the taboo against the sister is 
imposed with great brutality and kept up with rigid 
strength, the real inclination to break the strong taboo 
is much more actual. Hence this abuse wounds to the 

There is nothing to be said about proverbs in the 


Trobriands, for they do not exist. As to the typical 
sayings and other linguistic uses, I shall mention here 
the important fact of the word luguta, my sister, being 
used in magic as a word which signifies incompatibility 
and mutual repulsion. 

We pass now to myth and legend, that is, to the stories 
told with a serious purpose in explanation of things, 
institutions, and customs. To make the survey of this 
very extensive and rich material clear yet rapid, we 
shall classify these stories into three categories : 
(i) Myths of the origin of man, and of the general 
order of society, and especially totemic divisions and 
social ranks ; (2) Myths of cultural change and achieve- 
ments which contain stories about heroic deeds, about 
the establishment of customs, cultural features and 
social institutions ; (3) Myths associated with definite 
forms of magic. ^ 

The matrilineal character of the culture meets us at 
once in the first class, that is, in the myths about the 
origins of man, of the social order, especially chieftain- 
ship and totemic divisions, and of the various clans 
and sub-clans. These myths, which are numerous, for 
every locality has its own legends or variations, form 
a sort of connected cycle. They all agree that human 
beijUgs have emerged from underground through holes 
in the earth. Every sub-clan has its own place of 

^ Cf. the chapter on Mythology in Argonauts of the Western Pacific, 
especially pp. 304 sqq. 


emergence, and the events which happened on this 
momentous occasion determined sometimes the 
privileges or disabilities of the sub-clan. What interests 
us most in them is that the first ancestral groups whose 
appearance is mentioned in the myth consist always 
of a woman, sometimes accompanied by her brother, 
sometimes by the totemic animal, but never by a 
husband. In some of the myths the mode of propagating 
of the first ancestress is explicitly described. She starts 
the line of her descendants by imprudent exposure to 
the rain or, lying in a grotto, is pierced by the dripping 
of the stalactites ; or bathing she is bitten by a fish. 
She is ' opened up ' in this way, and a spirit child 
enters her womb and she becomes pregnant.^ Thus 
instead of the creative force of a father, the mjrths 
reveal the spontaneous procreative powers of the 
ancestral mother. 

Nor is there any other role in which the father 
appears. In fact, he is never mentioned, and does not 
exist in any part of the mythological world. Most of 

^ Freudians will be interested in the psychology of symbolism 
underlying these myths. It must be noted that the natives have no 
idea whatever of the fertilizing influence of the male semen, but they 
know that a virgin cannot conceive, and that to become a mother a 
woman has to be ' opened up ' as they express it. This in the every- 
day life of the village is done at an early age by the appropriate organ. 
In the myth of the primeval ancestress, where the husband or any 
sexually eligible male companion is excluded, some natural object 
is selected, such as a fish or a stalactite. Cf. for further material 
on this subject my article in Psyche, Oct., 1923, reprinted as The 
Father in Primitive Psychology, 1927. 


these local myths have come down in very rudimentary 
form, some containing only one incident or an affirma- 
tion of right and privilege. Those of them which 
contain a conflict or a dramatic incident, elements 
essential in ungarbled myth, depict invariably a 
matriUneal family and the drama happening within it. 
There is a quarrel between two brothers which makes 
them separate, each taking his sister. Or, again, in 
another myth, two sisters set out, disagree, separate 
and found two different communities. 

In a myth which might perhaps be classed in this 
group, and which accounts for the loss of immortahty, 
or, to put it more correctly, of perpetual youth by 
human beings, it is the quarrel between grandmother 
and granddaughter which brings about the catastrophe. 
Matrihny — in the fact that descent is reckoned by the 
female — mother-right — in the great importance of the 
part played by women, the matriarchal configuration 
of kinship, in the dissensions of brothers — in short, the 
pattern of the matrihneal family, is evident in the 
structure of myths of this category. There is not a 
single myth of origins in which a husband or a father 
plays any part, or even makes his appearance. That the 
matrihneal nature of the mythological drama is closely 
associated with the matrihneal repressions within the 
family should need no further argument to convince 
a psycho-analyst. 

Let us now turn to the second class of myths, those 


referring to certain big cultural achievements brought 
about by heroic deeds and important adventures. This 
class of myth is less rudimentary, consists of long cycles, 
and develops pronouncedly dramatic incidents. The 
most important cycle of this category is the myth of 
Tudava, a hero bom of a virgin who was pierced by the 
action of stalactite water. The deeds of this hero are 
celebrated in a number of myths, which differ slightly 
according to the district in which they are found, and 
which ascribe to him the introduction of agriculture 
and the institution of a number of customs and moral 
rules, though his own moral character is very weakly 
developed. The main deed of this hero, however, the 
one known all over the district, and forming the bedrock 
of all the myths, is the slaying of an ogre. The story 
runs as follows : — 

Humanity led a happy existence in the Trobriand 
Archipelago. Suddenly a dreadful ogre called 
Dokonikan made his appearance in the eastern 
part of the islands. He fed on human flesh and 
gradually consumed one community after another. 
At the north-western end of the island in the village of 
Laba'i there lived at that time a family consisting of 
a sister and her brothers. When Dokonikan ranged 
nearer and nearer to Laba'i the family decided to fly. 
The sister, however, at that moment wounded her foot 
and was unable to move. She was therefore abandoned 
by her brothers, who left her with her little son in a 


grotto on the beach of Laba'i, and sailed away in 
a canoe to the south-west. The boy was brought up 
by his mother, who taught him first the choice of proper 
wood for a strong spear, then instructed him in the 
Kwoygapani magic which steals away a man's under- 
standing. The hero sallied forth, and after having 
bewitched Dokonikan with the Kwoygapani magic, 
killed him and cut off his head. After that he and his 
mother prepared a taro pudding, in which they hid 
and baked the head of the ogre. With this gruesome 
dish Tudava sailed away in search of his mother's 
brother. When he found him he gave him the pudding, 
in which the uncle with horror and dismay found the 
head of Dokonikan. Seized with fear and remorse, the 
mother's brother offered his nephew all sorts of gifts 
in atonement for having abandoned him and his mother 
to the ogre. The hero refused ever5rthing, and was only 
appeased after he had received his uncle's daughter in 
marriage. After that he set out again and performed 
a number of cultural deeds, which do not interest us 
further in this context. 

In this myth there are two conflicts which set the 
drama in motion : first the cannibalistic appetite of 
the ogre, and second the abandonment of mother and 
son by the maternal uncle. The second is a typical 
matrilineal drama, and corresponds distinctly to the 
natural tendency, repressed by tribal morals and 
custom, as we have found it in our analysis of the 


matrilineal family in the Trobriands. For the mother's 
brother is the appointed guardian of her and her family. 
Yet this is a duty which both weighs heavily upon him, 
and is not always gratefully and pleasantly received by 
his wards. Thus it is characteristic that the opening 
of the most important heroic drama in mythology 
should be associated with a capital sin of the 
matriarch's neglect of his duty. 

But this second matriarchal conflict is not altogether 
independent of the first. When Dokonikan is killed 
his head is presented in a dish of wood to the maternal 
uncle. If it were only to frighten him by the sight of 
the monster, there would be no point in disguising the 
head in the taro pudding. Moreover, since Dokonikan 
was the general enemy of humanity, the sight of his 
head should have filled the uncle with joy. The whole 
setting of this incident and the emotion which underlies 
it, receive meaning only if we assume that there is some 
sort of association or connivance between the ogre 
and the uncle. In that case, to give one cannibal's 
head to be eaten by the other is just the right sort of 
punishment, and the story contains then in reality one 
villain and one conflict distributed over two stages and 
duplicated into two persons. Thus we see that the 
legend of Tudava contains a typical matrilineal drama 
which forms its core, and which is brought to a logical 
conclusion. I shall remain satisfied, therefore, with 
having pointed out those features which are 


indisputable, and are clearly contained in the facts 
themselves, and I shall not enter in detail into further 
interpretations of this myth, which would necessitate 
certain historical and mythological hypotheses. But 
I wish to suggest that the figure of Dokonikan is not 
altogether explained by his association with the 
matriarch, that he may be a figure handed from a 
patriarchal culture into a; matriarchal one, in which 
case he might represent the father and husband. If 
this be so, the present legend would be extremely 
interesting in showing how the prevalent cast of a 
culture moulds and transforms persons and situations 
to fit them into its own sociological context. 

Another incident in this myth which I shall only 
indicate here, is the marriage at the end of the story 
of the hero to his maternal cross-cousin. This, in the 
present kinship system of the natives, is considered 
distinctly an improper thing, though not actually 

Passing to another legendary cycle, we have the story 
of two brothers who quarrel over a garden plot — as so 
often happens in real life — and in this quarrel the 
elder kills the younger. The myth does not relate any 
compunction for this act. It describes, instead, in 
detail the culinary anti-climax of the drama ; the elder 
brother digs a hole in the ground, brings stones, leaves 
and firewood, and, as if he had just killed a pig or hauled 
out a big fish, he proceeds to bake his brother in an 


earthen oven. Then he hawks the baked flesh about 
from one village to another, rebaking it from time to 
time when his olfactory sense indicates the necessity 
of such a procedure. Those communities which decline 
his offer remain non-cannibalistic ; those which accept 
become flesh-eaters ever afterwards. Thus here 
cannibaUsm is traced to a fratricidal act, and to 
preference or dislike for a food thus criminally and 
sinfully obtained. Needless to say, this is the myth of 
the non-cannibalistic tribes only. The same difference 
between cannibalism and its absence is explained 
by the man-eating natives of Dobu and the other 
cannibalistic districts of the d'Entrecasteaux Islands 
by a story in which cannibalism is certainly not branded 
as anything unpleasant. This story also, however, con- 
sists in a difference, if not in an actual quarrel between 
two brothers and two sisters.^ What mainly interests 
us in these myths is the matrilineal imprint which 
they possess in the quarrel between elder and younger 

The myth about the origins of fire, which also 
contains a brief mention of the origins of sun and moon, 
describes dissension between two sisters. It may be 
added that fire in this myth is described as originating 
in a woman's sexual organs. 

* These myths have already been given in Argonauts of the 
Western Pacific. Chapter on ' Mythology ', pp. 321-331-332. 


The reader accustomed to psycho-analytic inter- 
pretations of myth and to psychological and 
anthropological writings on the subject in general, will 
find all my remarks singularly simple and un- 
sophisticated. All that is said here is clearly written 
on the surface of the myth, and I have hardly attempted 
any complicated or symbolic interpretation. This, 
however, I refrained from doing on purpose. For the 
thesis here developed that in a matriarchal society myth 
will contain conflicts of a specifically matrilineal nature 
is better served if supported only by unquestionable 
argiunents. Moreover, if I am right, and if our 
sociological point of view brings us really one step 
nearer towards the correct interpretation of myth, 
then it is clear that we need not rely so much on 
roundabout or symbolic reinterpretations of facts, 
but can confidently let the facts speak for themselves. 
It will be obvious to any attentive reader that many of 
the situations which we understand as direct results 
of the matrilineal complex could, by artificial and 
symbolic rehandling, be made to correspond to a 
patriarchal outlook. The conflict between mother's 
brother and nephew, who should be natural protectors 
and always keep common cause, but who often in 
reality regard each other as one ogre might another, 
the fight and cannibaUstic violence between two 
brothers, who in tribal law form one body, all this 
corresponds roughly to analogous conflicts within a 


patriarchal family. And it is just the difference in the 
actors, in the cast of the play, which distinguishes the 
matriarchal from the patriarchal myth. It is the 
sociological point of view of the tragedy which differs. 
The foundations of the psycho-analytic explanations of 
myth we have in no way shaken. We have merely 
corrected the sociology of this interpretation. That this 
correction, however, is of extreme importance, and even 
bears upon fundamental psychological problems, has, 
I trust, been made sufficiently clear. 

Let us pass now to the third class of myth, that 
which we find at the basis of cultural achievement 
and magic. Magic plays an extremely important 
part in everything which these natives do. When- 
ever they approach any subject which is of vital 
importance to them and in which they cannot rely 
solely on their own forces, they summon magic 
to their aid. To master wind and weather, to ward 
off dangers in saihng, to secure success in love, 
ceremonial trading or dancing, the natives perform 
magic. Black magic and magic of health play a very 
great role in their social life, and in the important 
economic activities and enterprises, such as gardening, 
fishing, and the construction of canoes, magic enters 
as an intrinsic and important element. Now between 
magic and myth there exists an intimate connexion. 
Most of the super-normal power displayed by the heroes 
in myth is due to their knowledge of magic. Present 


humanity differs from the great mythical heroes 
of the past in that nowadays the most effective 
tj^es of magic have been lost. Could the strong spells 
and the powerful rites be recovered, men could fly 
through the air, rejuvenate and thus retain their life 
for ever, kill people and bring them to life again, be 
always beautiful, successful, loved and praised. 

But it is not only myth which draws its power from 
magic. Magic is also dependent upon myth. Almost 
every type of spell and rite has its mythological 
foundation. The natives tell a story of the past which 
explains how this magic came into man's possession, 
and which serves as a warrant of its efficiency. In 
this lies perhaps the main sociological influence of 
myth. For myth Hves in magic, and since magic shapes 
and maintains many social institutions, myth exercises 
its influence upon them. 

Let us now pass to a few concrete examples of such 
myths of magic. It will be best to discuss the question* 
of one detailed case first, and for this I shall choose the 
myth of the flying canoe already published in extenso.^ 
This myth is narrated in connexion with the ship- 
building magic used by the natives. A long story is 
told about a time when there existed magic which, 
performed during the construction of a canoe, could 
make it fly through the air. The hero of this story, the 
man who was the last — and as it seems also the first — 

^ op. ciL, pp. 421 sqq. 


to perform it, is depicted in his role of ship-builder and 
magician. We are told how under his direction a canoe 
is built ; how, on an overseas expedition to the south, 
it outruns all others, flying through the air while they 
have to sail ; how its owner obtains an overwhelming 
success in the expedition. This is the happy beginning 
of the story. Now comes the tragedy. All the men in 
the community are jealous and fuU of hatred against 
the hero. Another incident occurs. He is in possession 
also of a successful garden magic, and of one by which 
he can also damage his neighbours. In a general 
drought his garden alone survives. Then all the 
men of his community determine that he must die. 
The younger brother of the hero had received from him 
the canoe magic and the garden magic. So no one 
thought that by IdUing the elder brother they would 
also lose the magic. The criminal deed is performed, 
and it is done not by any strangers, but by the younger 
brother of the hero. In one of the versions he and the 
hero's maternal nephews kiU him in a joint attack. In 
another version again, the story proceeds to tell how, 
after he has killed his elder brother, he then proceeds 
to organize the mortuary festivities for him. The point 
of the story remains in the fact that after the deed was 
done, and the younger brother tried to apply the 
magic to a canoe, he found out with dismay that he was 
not in possession of the full magic, but only of its weaker 
part. Thus humanity lost the flying magic for ever. 


In this myth the matriHneal complex comes power- 
fully to the fore. The hero, whose duty it is according 
to tribal law to share the magic with his younger 
brother and maternal nephew, cheats them, to put it 
in plain terms, by pretending that he has handed them 
over all the spells and rites while in reality he only gave 
up an insignificant fraction. The younger man, on the 
other hand, whose duty it would be to protect his 
brother, to avenge his death, to share all his interests, 
we find at the head of the conspiracy, red-handed 
with fratricidal murder. 

If we compare this mythical situation with the 
sociological reality we find a strange correspondence. 
It is the duty of every man to hand over to his maternal 
nephew or younger brother the hereditary possessions 
of the family, such as family myth, family magic and 
family songs ; as well as the titles to certain material 
possessions and economic rites. The handing over of 
magic has obviously to be done during the life-time of 
the elder man. The cession of property rights and 
privileges is also frequently done before his death. It 
is interesting that such lawful acquisition by a man of 
the goods which are due to him by inheritance from his 
maternal uncle or elder brother has always to be done 
against a type of payment called pokala, which 
frequently is very substantial indeed. It is still more 
important to note that when a father gives certain 
properties to his son he always does it for nothing, out 


of sheer affection. In actual life, the mythological 
swindle of the younger by the elder brother is also 
very often paralleled. There is always a feeling of 
uncertainty, always a mutual suspicion between the two 
people who in tribal law should be at one in common 
interests and reciprocal duties as well as in affection. 
Ever so often w^hen obtaining magic from a man, I 
became aware that he was himself doubtful whether he 
had not been cheated out of some of it in receiving it 
from his uncle or elder brother. Such a doubt was 
never in the mind of a man who had received his 
magic as a gift from the father. Survepng the people 
now in possession of important systems of magic, I 
find also that more than half of the outstanding 
younger magicians have obtained their powers by 
paternal gift and not by maternal inheritance. 

Thus in real life, as well as in myth, we see that the 
situation corresponds to a complex, to a repressed 
sentiment, and is at cross variance with tribal law and 
conventional tribal ideals. According to law and morals, 
two brothers or a maternal uncle and his nephew are 
friends, allies, and have all feelings and interests in 
common. In real life to a certain degree and quite 
openly in myth, they are enemies, cheat each other, 
murder each other, and suspicion and hostihty obtain 
rather than love and union. 

One more feature in the canoe m3rth deserves our 
attention : in an epilogue to the myth we are told that 


the three sisters of the hero are angry with the younger 
brother because he has killed the elder one without 
learning the magic. They had already learnt it, 
however, and, though, being women, they could not 
build or sail flying canoes, they were able to fly 
through the air as flying witches. After the crime had 
been committed they flew away, each of them settling 
in a different district. In this episode we see the 
characteristic matrihneal position of woman, who learns 
magic first before man has acquired it. The sisters also 
appear as moral guardians of the clan, but their wrath 
is directed not against the crime, but against the 
mutilation of clan property. Had the younger brother 
known the magic before kiUing the elder, the three 
sisters would have lived on happily with him for ever 

Another fragmentary myth already published 
deserves our attention,^ the myth about the origins 
of salvage magic, in cases of shipwreck. There were two 
brothers, the elder a man, the younger a dog. One day 
the senior goes on a fishing expedition, but he refuses 
to take the younger one with him. The dog, who has 
acquired the magic of safe swimming from the mother, 
follows the elder one, diving under water. In the fishing 
the dog is more successful. In retahation for the ill- 
treatment received from the elder brother, the dog 
changes his clan and bequeaths the magic to his adopted 

1 op. cit., pp. 262-264. 


kinsmen. The drama of this myth consists first of all 
in the favouring by the mother of the second son, a 
distinctly matrilineal feature, in that the mother here 
distributes her favours directly, and does not need to 
cheat the father hke her better-known colleague in 
the Bible, the mother of Esau and Jacob. There is also 
the typical matriUneal quarrel, the wronging of the 
younger brother by the elder, and retaliation. 

One more important story has to be given here : 
the legend about the origin of love magic, which forms 
the most telling piece of evidence with regard to the 
influence of the matriUneal complex. Among these 
amorous people the arts of seduction, of pleasing, of 
impressing the other sex, lead to the display of beauty, 
of prowess, and of artistic abihties. The fame of a good 
dancer, of a good singer, of a warrior, has its sexual 
side, and though ambition has a powerful sway for 
its own sake, some of it is always sacrificed on the altar 
of love. But above aU the other means of seduction the 
prosaic and crude art of magic is extensively used, and 
it commands the supreme respect of the natives. The 
tribal Don Juan will boast about his magic rather than 
any personal qualities. The less successful swain will 
sigh for magic : " If I only knew the real Kayroiwo " 
is the burden of the broken heart. The natives will 
point to old, ugly, and crippled men who yet have 
been always successful in love by means of their magic. 

This magic is not simple. There is a series of acts, 


each consisting of a special formula and its rite, which 
have to be carried out one after the other in order to 
exercise an increasing charm upon the desired lover. 
It may be added at once that the magic is carried out 
by girls to capture an admirer as well as by youths to 
subdue a sweetheart. 

The initial formula is associated with the ritual bathe 
in the sea. A formula is uttered over the spongy leaves 
which are used by the natives as a bathing towel to 
dry and rub the skin. The bather rubs his skin with the 
bewitched leaves, then throws them into the waves; 
As the leaves heave up and down so shall the inside of 
the beloved one be moved by passion. Sometimes this 
formula is sufficient ; if not, the spurned lover will 
resort to a stronger one. The second formula is chanted 
over betel-nut, which the lover then chews and spits 
out in the direction of his beloved. If even this should 
prove unavailing, a third formula, stronger than the 
two preceding ones, is recited over some dainty, such 
as betel-nut or tobacco, and the morsel is given to the 
desired one to eat, chew, or smoke. An even more 
drastic measure is to utter the magic into the open 
palms and attempt to press them against the bosom of 
the beloved. 

The last and most powerful method might, with- 
out pushing the simile too far, be described as 
psycho-analytic. In fact, long before Freud had dis- 
covered the predominantly erotic nature of dreams. 


similar theories were in vogue among the brown-skinned 
savages of north-west Melanesia. According to their 
view, certain forms of magic can produce dreams. The 
wish engendered in such dreams penetrates into 
waking life and thus the dream- wish becomes realized. 
This is Freudianism turned upside-down ; but which 
theory is correct and which is erroneous I shall not 
try definitely to settle. As regards love magic, there is 
a method of brewing certain aromatic herbs in coconut 
oil and uttering a formula over them, which gives them 
a powerful dream-inducing property. If the magic- 
maker be successful in making the smeU of this brew 
enter the nostrils of his beloved, she will be sure to 
dream of him. In this dream she may have visions and 
undergo experiences which she will inevitably attempt 
to translate into deeds in actual life. 

Among the several forms of love magic that of the 
sulumwoya is by far the most important . A great potency 
is ascribed to it, and it commands a considerable 
price if a native wants to purchase the formula and the 
rite, or if he wants it to be performed on his behalf. 
This magic is locaUzed in two centres. One of them lies 
on the eastern shore of the main island. A fine beach 
of clean coral sand overlooks the open sea towards the 
west, where beyond the white breakers on the fringing 
reef there may be seen on a clear day silhouettes of 
distant raised coral rocks. Among them is the island 
of Iwa, the second centre of love magic. The spot on 


the main island, which is the bathing and boating beach 
of the village of Kumilabwaga, is to the natives almost 
like a holy shrine of love. There, in the white limestone 
beyond the fringe of luxuriant vegetation is the 
grotto where the primeval tragedy was consummated ; 
there on both sides of the grotto are the two springs 
which still possess the power of inspiring love by ritual. 

A beautiful myth of magic and love connects these 
two spots facing each other across the sea. One of the 
most interesting aspects of this myth is that it accounts 
for the existence of love-magic by what to the natives 
is a horrible and tragic event, an act of incest between 
brother and sister. In this the story shows some affinity 
to the legends of Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and 
Guinevere, Sigmund and Sigelinde, as well as to a 
number of similar tales in savage communities. 

There hved in the village of Kumilabwaga a woman 
of the Malasi clan who had a son and a daughter. One 
day while the mother was cutting out her fibre-petticoat, 
the son, made some magic over herbs. This he did to 
gain the love of a certain woman. He placed some of the 
pungent kwayawaga leaves and some of the sweet- 
scented sulumwoya (mint) into clarified coconut oil 
and boiled the mixture, reciting the spell over it. Then 
he poured it into a receptacle made of toughened 
banana-leaves and placed it in the thatch. He then 
went to the sea to bathe. His sister in the meantime 
had made ready to go to the water hole to fill the 


coconut bottles with water. As she passed under 
the spot where the magical oil had been put, 
she brushed against the receptacle with her hair 
and some of the oil dropped down over her. She 
brushed it off with her fingers, and then sniffed at 
them. When she returned with the water she asked her 
mother, " Where is the man, where is my brother ? " 
This according to native moral ideas was a dreadful 
thing to do, for no girl should inquire about her brother, 
nor should she speak of him as a man. The mother 
guessed what had happened. She said to herself : 
" Alas, my children have lost their minds." 

The sister ran after her brother. She found him on 
the beach where he was bathing. He was without his 
pubic leaf. She loosened her fibre skirt and naked she 
tried to approach him. Horrified by this dreadful sight 
the man ran away along the beach tiU he was barred by 
the precipitous rock which on the north cuts off the 
Bokaraywata beach. He turned and ran back to the 
other rock which stands up steep and inaccessible at 
the southern end. Thus they ran three times along the 
beach under the shade of the big overhanging trees till 
the man, exhausted and overcome, allowed his sister 
to catch hold of him, and the two fell down, embracing 
in the shallow water of the caressing waves. Then, 
ashamed and remorseful, but with the fire of their love 
not quenched, they went to the grotto of Bokaraywata 
where they remained without food, without drink, and 


without sleep. There also they died, clasped in one 
another's arms, and through their linked bodies there 
grew the sweet-smelling plant of the native mint 

A man in the island of Iwa dreamt the kirisala, the 
magical dream of this tragic event. He saw the vision 
before him. He woke, and said : " The two are dead 
in the grotto of Bokaraywata and the sulumwoya is 
growing out of their bodies. I must go." He took his 
canoe ; he sailed across the sea between his island and 
that of Kitava. Then from Kitava he went to the main 
island, till he alighted on the tragic beach. There he 
saw the reef-heron hovering over the grotto. He went 
in and he saw the sulumwoya plant growing out of the 
lovers' chests. He then went to the village. The mother 
avowed the shame which had fallen on her family. 
She gave him the magical formula, which he learned 
by heart. He took part of the spell over to Iwa and left 
part of it in Kumilabwaga. At the grotto he plucked 
off some of the mint, and took it with him. He returned 
to Iwa, to his island. He said : " I have brought here the 
tip of the magic ; its roots remain in Kumilabwaga. 
There it will stay, connected with the bathing passage 
of Kadiusawasa and with the water of Bokaraywata. 
In one spring the men must bathe, in the other the 
women." The man of Iwa then imposed the taboos of 
the magic, he prescribed exactly the ritual and he 
stipulated that a substantial payment should be made 


to the people of Iwa and Kumilabwaga, when they 
allowed others to use their magic or to use their sacred 
spots. There is also a traditional miracle or at least an 
augury to those who perform the magic on the beach. 
In the myth this is represented as laid down by the man 
of Iwa ; when the magic is performed and good results 
can be foreseen two small fish will be seen playing 
together in the shallow water of the beach. 

I have but summarized here this last part of the 
myth, for its literal form contains sociological claims 
which are wearisome and degenerate into boastings ; 
the account of the miraculous element usually leads into 
reminiscences from the immediate past ; the ritual 
details develop into technicalities and the Ust of taboos 
into prescriptive homilies. But to the native narrator 
this last part of practical, pragmatic, and often of 
personal interest, is perhaps more important than the 
rest, and the anthropologist has more to learn from it 
than from the preceding dramatic tale. The sociological 
claims are contained in the myth, since the magic to 
which it refers is personal property. It has to be handed 
over from a fully entitled possessor to one who lawfully 
acquires it from him. All the force of magic consists 
in correct tradition. The fact of direct filiation by which 
the present ofhciator is linked to the original source is 
of paramount relevance. In certain magical formulae 
the names of all its wielders are enumerated. In all 
rites and spells the conviction that they are absolutely 


in conformity with the original pattern is essential. 
And myth figures as the ultimate source, as the last 
pattern of this retrogressive series. It is again the 
charter of magical succession, the starting-point of the 

In connection with this a few words must be said 
about the social setting of magic and myth. Some forms 
of magic are not localized. Here belong sorcery, love 
magic, beauty niagic, and the magic of Kula. In 
these forms fihation is none the less important, although 
it is not filiation by kinship. Other forms of magic are 
associated with a given territory, with the local 
industries of a community, with certain paramount and 
exclusive claims, vested in a chief and in his capital 
village. All garden magic belongs here — the magic 
which must be born of the soil, on which it can only 
thus be efficacious. Here belongs the magic of the 
shark and other fishing of a local character. Here also 
belong certain forms of canoe magic, that of the red 
sheU used for ornaments, and, above all, waygigi, the 
supreme magic of rain and sunshine, the exclusive 
privilege of the paramount chiefs of Omarakana. 

In these types of local magic the esoteric power of 
words is as much chained to the locality as the group 
who inhabit the village and wield the magic. The 
magic thus is not merely local but exclusive and 
hereditary in a matrilineal kinship group. In these cases 
the m5rth of magic must be placed side by side with the 


myth of local origins as an essentially sociological 
force welding the group together, supplying its quota 
to the sentiment of unity, endowing the group with a 
common cultural value. 

The other element conspicuous in the end of the 
above story and present also in most other magic - 
myths is the enumeration of portents, auguries, and 
miracles. It might be said that as the local myth 
establishes the claims of the group by precedent, so the 
magical myth vindicates them by miracle. Magic is 
based upon the belief in a specific power, residing always 
in man, derived always from tradition.^ The efficiency 
of this power is vouched for by the myth, but it has 
to be confirmed also by the only thing which man ever 
accepts as final proof, namely practical results. " By 
their fruits ye shall know them." Primitive man is not 
less eager than the modem man of science to confirm 
his convictions by empirical fact. The empiricism of 
faith, whether savage or civilized, consists in miracles. 
And living behef will always generate miracles. There 
is no civilized religion without its saints and devils, 
without its illuminations and tokens, without the spirit 
of God descending upon the community of the faithful. 
There is no new-fangled creed, no new religion, whether 
it be a form of Spiritism, Theosophy, or Christian 
Science, which cannot prove its legitimacy by the solid 

^ op. cit., chapters on " Magic " and " Power of Words in Magic ", 
cf. also Ogden and Richards' The Meaning of Meaning, chap. ii. 


fact of 5lipematural manifestation. The savage has 
also his thaumatology, and in the Trobriands, where 
magic dominates all supernaturalism, it is a 
thaumatology of magic. Round each form of magic 
there is a continuous trickle of small miracles, at times 
swelling into bigger, more conspicuously supernatural 
proofs, then again, running in a smaller stream, but 
never absent. 

In love magic, for instance, from the continuous 
boasting about its success, through certain remarkable 
cases in which very ugly men arouse the passion of 
famous beauties, it has reached the climax of its 
miracle -worldng power in the recent notorious case of 
incest mentioned above. This crime is often accounted 
for by an accident similar to that which befell the 
mythical lovers, the brother and sister of Kumilabwaga. 
Myth thus forms the background of all present-day 
miracles ; it remains their pattern and standard. I 
might quote from other stories a similar relation 
between the original miracle narrated by myth and its 
repetition in the current miracles of living faith. The 
readers of The Argonauts of the Western Pacific will 
remember how the mythology of ceremonial trading 
casts its shadow on modem custom and practice. In 
the magic of rain and weather, of gardening and of 
fishing, there is a strong tendency to see the original 
miracle repeated in an attenuated form in outstanding 
miraculous confirmations of magical power. 


Finally, the element of prescriptive injunction, the 
laying down of ritual, taboos, and social regulations 
crops up towards the end of most mythical narratives. 
When the myth of a certain magic is told by a wielder 
of the magic, he naturally will state his own functions 
as the outcome of the story. He beUeves himself to be 
at one with the original founder of the magic. In the 
love myth, as we have seen, the locaUty in which the 
primeval tragedy happened, with its grotto, its beach, 
and its springs, becomes an important shrine infused 
with the power of magic. To the local people, who no 
longer have the exclusive monopoly of magic, certain 
prerogatives still associated with the spot are of the 
greatest value. That part of the ritual which still 
remains bound to the locality naturally occupies their 
attention. In the magic of rain and sunshine of 
Omarakana, which is one of the comer-stones of the 
chief's power, the myth revolves round one or two local 
features which also figure in present day ritual. 

All sexual attraction, all power of seduction, is 
believed to reside in the magic of love. 

In the fishing of shark and of the kalala, specific 
elements of the locality figure also. But even in these 
stories which do not wed magic to locality, long 
prescriptions of ritual are either told as an integral 
part of the narrative or else are put in the mouth of one 
of the dramatis personae. The prescriptive character 
of myth shows its essentially pragmatic function, its 


close association with ritual, with belief, with living 
culture. Myth has often been described by writers of 
psycho-analysis as " the secular dream of the race ". 
This formula, even as a rough approximation, is 
incorrect in view of the practical and pragmatic nature 
of myth just established. It has been necessary barely 
to touch upon this subject here, for it is treated more 
fully in another place. ^ 

In this work I trace the influence of a matri- 
lineal complex upon one culture only, studied 
by myself at first-hand in intensive field work. But 
the results obtained have a much wider application. 
For myths of incest between brother and sister are of 
frequent occurrence among matriUneal peoples, 
especially in the Pacific, and hatred and rivalry between 
elder and younger brother, or between nephew and 
maternal uncle, is a characteristic feature of the world's 

^ " Myth in Primitive Psychology," Psyche Miniatures, 1926. 





nPHE psycho-analytic theory of the (Edipus complex 
was first framed without any reference to the 
sociological or cultural setting. This was only natural, 
for psycho-analysis started as a technique of treatment 
based on clinical observation. It was subsequently 
expanded into a general account of neuroses ; then 
into a theory of psychological processes in general ; 
finally it became a system by which most phenomena 
in body and mind, in society and culture were to be 
explained. Such claims are obviously too ambitious, 
but even their partial realization could have been 
possible only through intelligent and whole-hearted 
co-operation between experts in psycho-analysis 
and the various other specialists. These latter might 
have become acquainted with psycho-analytical 
principles and been led by these into new avenues 
of research. In turn, they might have placed their 
special knowledge and their methods at the disposal 
of psycho-analysts. 



Unfortunately the new doctrine was not accorded 
a benevolent and intelligent reception : on the contrary 
most specialists either ignored or combated psycho- 
analysis. As a consequence we find a somewhat 
rigid and esoteric seclusion on the psycho-analytic 
side and ignorance of what is without doubt an 
important contribution to psychology on the other. 

This book is an attempt at a collaboration between 
anthropology and psycho-analysis. Several similar 
attempts have also been made from the psycho-analytic 
side, as an example of which I shall take an interesting 
article by Dr. Ernest Jones. ^ This is of special moment, 
since it is a criticism of the first part of this book, 
which appeared as two preliminary articles in 1924.2 
Dr. Jones's essay will serve as a typical illustration 
of certain differences in the method of approach of 
anthropologists and of psycho-analysts to the problems 
of primitive society ; it is especially suited for this 
since the author, in his interpretation of mother-right 
among the Melanesians, his understanding of the 
complexity of their legal system and of their kinship 
organization, reveals his grasp of difficult anthropo- 
logical questions. 

It will be convenient here to give a short summary 
of the views expressed by Dr. Jones. The purpose of 

> " Mother-Right and the Sexual Ignorance of Savages," Inter- 
national Journal of Psycho-Analysis, vol. vi, part 2, 1925, pp. 109-30. 
* " Psycho-Analysis and Anthropology," Psyche, vol. iv. 


his essay is to give a psycho-analytic explanation 
of the institution of mother-right and of the ignorance 
of paternity which obtains among certain primitive 
peoples. According to the psycho-analyst these two 
phenomena are not to be taken merely at their face 
value. Thus savages, when propounding their views 
on procreation, display symbolism of such an accurate 
kind " as to indicate at least an unconscious knowledge 
of the truth ". And this repressed cognizance of the 
facts of paternity stands in the closest relationship to 
the features of the mother-right, since each is actuated 
by the same motive — the wish to deflect the hatred 
felt by the growing boy towards his father. 

In support of this hypothesis Dr. Jones draws 
to a considerable extent upon the material from the 
Trobriand Islands, but differs from my conclusions, 
notably in regard to the central theme — the deter- 
mination of the form of the nuclear family complex 
by the social structure of the particular culture 
observed. Dr. Jones adheres to Freud's theory of the 
(Edipus complex as a fundamental — in fact primordial — 
phenomenon. He is of the opinion that of the two 
elements which compose it, love for the mother and 
hatred against the father, the latter is by far the most 
important in leading to repression. From this an 
avenue of escape is sought by simply denying the act 
of birth from the father, " repudiation of the father's 
part in coitus and procreation, and consequently 


softening and deflection of the hatred against him " 
(p. 122). But the father is not yet disposed of. The 
" attitudes of awe, dread, respect and suppressed 
hostihty which are inseparable from the idea of the 
father imago ", springing from " the obsessional 
ambivalence of savages ", have still to be dealt with, 
so the maternal uncle is chosen, so to speak, as the 
scapegoat on whom can be heaped all the sins of the 
older male in authority, while the father can continue 
a friendly and pleasant existence within the household. 
Thus we have a " decomposition of the primal father 
into a kind and lenient actual father on the one hand 
and a stern and moral uncle on the other " (p. 125). In 
other words the combination of mother-right and 
ignorance protects both father and son from their 
maternal rivalry and hostility. For Dr. Jones, then, 
the (Edipus complex is fundamental ; and " the 
matrilineal system with its avunculate complex arose, 
... as a mode of defence against the primordial 
(Edipus tendencies " (p. 128). 

AU these views will strike the readers of the first 
two parts of this book as not altogether unfamiliar, 
and sound in all the essentials. 

I am not prepared to endorse unconditionally Dr. 
Jones's main contention that both mother-right and 
ignorance of paternity have come into being " to 
deflect the hatred towards his father felt by the 
growing boy " (p. 120). I think this statement requires 


a fuller testing in the various anthropological provinces. 
But this view seems to me to be perfectly well in 
harmony with aU the facts which I have discovered 
in Melanesia, and with any other kinship systems 
with which I am acquainted through Uterature. 
Should Dr. Jones's hypothesis become established by 
subsequent research, as I think and hope it will be, 
the value of my own contributions will obviously 
be very much enhanced. For instead of having drawn 
attention to a mere accidental constellation, I should 
have had the good fortune to discover phenomena 
of universal evolutionary and genetic importance. 
In a way it seems to me that Dr. Jones's hypothesis 
is a daring and original extension of my own con- 
clusions, that in mother-right the family complex 
must be different from the (Edipus complex ; that in 
the matrilineal conditions the hate is removed from 
the father and placed upon the maternal uncle ; that 
any incestuous temptations are directed towards the 
sister rather than towards the mother. 

Dr. Jones takes, however, not only a more compre- 
hensive point of view, in which I am prepared to 
follow him ; he places, besides, a certain causal 
or metaphysical stress in that he regards the complex 
as the cause, and the whole sociological structure as 
the effect. In Dr. Jones's essay, as in most psycho- 
analytic interpretations of folk-lore, custom and institu- 
tions, the universal occurrence of the (Edipus complex 


is being assumed, as if it existed independently of the 
type of culture, of the social organization and of the 
concomitant ideas. Wherever we find in folk-lore 
hatred between two males, one of them is interpreted 
as s5nTibolizing the father, the other the son, irrespec- 
tive of whether in that society there are any oppor- 
tunities for a father and son to conflict. Again, all 
repressed or illicit passion which we find so often 
in mythological tragedies is due to the incestuous 
love between mother and son, even though such 
temptations could be shown to have been eliminated by 
the type of organization prevalent in that community. 
Consequently Dr. Jones in the article quoted above 
maintains that while my results may be correct " on 
the purely descriptive plane ", the correlation between 
sociology and psychology on which I insist is 
"extremely doubtful" (p. 127). And again that "if 
attention is concentrated on the sociological aspects 
of the data " my view might " appear a very ingenuous 
and perhaps even plausible suggestion ", but that it 
was only my " imperfect attention to the genetic 
aspects of the problem " which " has led to a lack of . . . 
a dimensional perspective, i.e. a sense of value based 
on intimate knowledge of the unconscious" (p. 128). 
Dr. Jones arrives at the conclusion, somewhat crushing 
to me, " that the opposite of Malinowski's conception 
is nearer the truth " (ibid). 
The radical discrepancy between psycho-analytical 


doctrine and empirical anthropology or sociology 
implied in these quotations does not seem to me to 
exist. I should not like to see psycho-analysis divorced 
from the empirical science of culture, nor the descriptive 
work in anthropology deprived of the assistance of 
psycho-analytical theory. I cannot myself plead 
guilty of overemphasizing the sociological elements 
either. I have tried to introduce these factors into 
the formula of the nuclear complex, but I have in no 
way minimized the importance of biological, psycho- 
logical, or unconscious factors. 



iy yf Y main contention is concisely and adequately 
summed up by Dr. Jones himself as " the view 
that the nuclear family complex varies according to the 
particular family structure existing in any community. 
According to him (i.e. to Malinowski) a matrilineal 
family system arises, for unknown social and economic 
reasons, and then the repressed nuclear complex 
consists of brother and sister attraction, with nephew 
and uncle hatred ; when this system is replaced by a 
patrilineal one, the nuclear complex becomes the 
familiar CEdipus one" (pp. 127 and 128). All this is 
a perfectly correct interpretation of my views, though 
Dr. Jones has gone beyond the scope of my previously 
published conclusions. As a field-worker I have 
remained throughout my essay on the " purely descrip- 
tive plane", but in this Part I shall presently take the 
opportunity of setting forth my genetic views. 

As has been already mentioned, the crux of the 
difficulty lies in the fact that to Dr. Jones and other 
psycho-analysts the (Edipus complex is something 
absolute, the primordial source, in his own words the 
Ions el origo of everything. To me on the other hand 



the nuclear family complex is a functional formation 
dependent upon the structure and upon the culture 
of a society. It is necessarily determined by the manner 
in which sexual restrictions are moulded in a community 
and by the manner in which authority is apportioned. 
I cannot conceive of the complex as the first cause of 
everything, as the unique source of culture, of organiza- 
tion and belief ; as the metaphysical entity, creative, 
but not created, prior to all things and not caused by 
anything else. 

Let me quote some more significant passages from 
Dr. Jones's article in order to indicate the obscurities 
and contradictions to which I have alluded. They 
illustrate the type of argument which we meet in the 
orthodox psycho-analytic discussions of savage 

Even where they admittedly cannot be found in actual 
existence, as in the matrilineal societies of Melanesia, 
the " primordial (Edipus tendencies " are still lurking 
behind : " The forbidden and unconsciously loved 
sister is only a substitute for the mother, as the uncle 
plainly is for the father" (p. 128). In other words the 
(Edipus complex is merely screened by another one, 
or painted over by the other complex, in slightly 
different colours. As a matter of fact. Dr. Jones 
uses an even stronger terminology and speaks about 
the " repression of the complex " and about " the 
various complicated devices whereby this repression 


is brought about and maintained" (p. 120). And here 
comes the first obscurity. I have always understood that 
a complex is an actual configuration of attitudes and 
sentiments partly overt, partly repressed, but actually 
existing in the unconscious. Such a complex can always 
be empirically reached by the practical methods of 
psycho-analysis, by the study of mythology, folk-lore 
and other cultural manifestations of the unconscious. 
If, however, as Dr. Jones seems fully to admit, the 
attitudes typical of the (Edipus complex cannot be 
found either in the conscious or unconscious ; if, as 
has been proved, there are no traces of it either in 
Trobriand folk-lore or in dreams and visions, or in any 
other symptoms ; if in all these manifestations we 
find instead the other complex — where is then the 
repressed (Edipus complex to be found ? Is there a 
sub-unconscious below the actual unconscious and 
what does the concept of a repressed repression mean ? 
Surely all this goes beyond the ordinary psycho-analytic 
doctrine and leads us into some unknown fields; ; I 
suspect moreover that they are the fields of meta- 
physics ! 

Let us turn to the devices by which the repression 
of the complex is brought about. According to Dr. 
Jones they consist in a tendency to divorce relation- 
ship and social kinship in the various customary 
denials of actual birth, in the enactment of a ritual 
birth, in the affectation of ignorance of paternity 


and so on. I would like to state here at once that in 
this I am very much in agreement with Dr. Jones's 
point of view, though I might differ in certain details. 
Thus I am not quite sure whether I would speak of 
a " tendentious denial of physical paternity " since 
I am firmly convinced that the ignorance of these 
complicated physiological processes is as natural and 
direct as is the ignorance of the processes of digestion, 
secretion, of the gradual bodily decay, in short, of 
all that happens in the human body. I do not know 
why we should assume that people on a very low level 
of culture have received their early revelation about 
certain aspects of embrj^ology while in all other aspects 
of natural science they know next to nothing a$ to the 
causal connections of phenomena. That, however, 
the divorce or at least the partial autonomy of 
biological and social relations under culture is 
of the greatest importance in primitive society 
I shall try to demonstrate presently at some 

In the matter of ignorance of paternity, however, 
there seems to me a slight discrepancy in Dr. Jones's 
views. In one place we are told " there is the closest 
collateral relationship between ignorance about paternal 
procreation on the one hand and the institution of 
mother-right on the other. My view is that both these 
phenomena are brought about by the same motive ; 
in what chronological relation they stand to each other 


is another question altogether, which will be considered 
later. The motive, according to this view, in both 
cases is to deflect the hatred towards his father felt by 
the growing boy " (p. 120). The point is crucial and yet 
Dr. Jones does not himself feel quite certain about it. 
For in another place he tells us that there is no " reason 
to suppose that the savage ignorance, or rather 
repression, of the facts of paternal procreation is a 
necessary accompaniment of mother-right, though 
it is evident that it must be a valuable support to the 
motives discussed above which led to the instituting 
of mother-right " (p. 130). The relation between the 
two sentences quoted is not quite clear, and while the 
latter is not quite correct the former would be more 
lucid if we were told what the author means by the 
" closest collateral relationship ". Does that mean 
that both ignorance and mother-right are necessary 
effects of the principal cause, i.e., the (Edipus complex, 
or are they both loosely connected with it ? If so what 
are the conditions under which the necessity to mask 
the (Edipus complex leads to mother-right and 
ignorance, and what are the conditions in which it 
does not lead to these effects ? Without such concrete 
data Dr. Jones's theory is not much more than a vague 

Having examined the devices, let us have a look 
at the " primordial cause ". This, as we know, is the 
(Edipus complex conceived in an absolute and 


genetically transcendental manner. Going beyond 
Dr. Jones's essay to the anthropological contributions 
of psycho-analysts in general, we learn how the CEdipus 
complex is supposed to have originally come into 
being. It originated by the famous totemic crime 
in the primeval horde. 



T^REUD'S theory of the dramatic beginnings of 
totemism and taboo, of exogamy and sacrifice, is 
of great importance in all psycho-analytic writings 
on anthropology. It cannot be passed over in any essay 
like the present one, which tries to bring psycho- 
analytic views into line with anthropological findings. 
We shall therefore take this opportunity of entering 
into a detailed critical analysis of the theory. 

In his book on Totem and Taboo Freud shows how 
the OEdipus complex can serve to explain totemism 
and the avoidance of the mother-in-law, ancestor 
worship and the prohibitions of incest, the identifica- 
tion of man with his totemic animal and the idea of 
the God Father.* In fact the (Edipus complex, as we 
know, has to be regarded by psycho-analysts as the 
source of culture, as having occurred before the 
beginnings of culture, and in his book Freud gives us 
precisely the hypothesis describing how it actually 
came into being. 

In this Freud takes the cue from two illustrious 
predecessors, Darwin and Robertson Smith. From 

^ S. Freud, Totem and Taboo, New York, 1918. The quotations 
in the text refer to the American Edition . 



Darwin he borrows the idea of " primal horde " or as it 
was renamed by Atkinson " the Cyclopean family ". 
According to this view the earUest form of family 
or social life consisted of small groups led and dominated 
by a mature male who kept in subjection a number of 
females and children. From another great student, 
Robertson Smith, Freud received the suggestion 
about the importance of the totemic sacrament. 
Robertson Smith considers that the earliest act of 
religion consisted of a common meal in which the 
totemic animal was ceremonially eaten by the members 
of the clan. In later development sacrifice, the almost 
universal and certainly the most important rehgious act, 
emerged from the totemic meal. The taboo forbidding 
the eating of totemic species at ordinary times 
constitutes the negative side of the ritual communion. 
To these two hypotheses Freud added one of his own : 
the identification of man with the totem is a trait of 
the mentality common to children, primitives and 
neurotics, based upon the tendency to identify the 
father with some unpleasant animal. 

In this context we are primarily interested in the 
sociological side of the theory and I shaU quote in 
full the passage of Darwin's upon which is built Freud's 
theory. Says Darwin : " We may indeed conclude 
from what we know of the jealousy of all male 
quadrupeds, armed, as many of them are, with special 
weapons for battling with their rivals, that promiscuous 


intercourse in a state of nature is extremely improbable. 
... If we therefore look back far enough into the 
stream of time and judging from the social habits 
of man as he now exists, the most probable view is 
that he originally lived in small communities, each with 
a single wife, or if powerful with several, whom he 
jealously defended against all other men. Or he may 
not have been a social animal and yet have lived with 
several wives, like the gorilla ; for all the natives agree 
that only the adult male is seen in a band ; when the 
young male grows up a contest takes place for mastery 
and the strongest, by killing and driving out the others, 
establishes himself as the head of the community 
(Dr. Savage in the Boston Journal of Natural History, 
vol. V, 1845-47). The younger males thus being 
driven out and wandering about would also, when at 
last successful in finding a partner, prevent too close 
inbreeding within the limits of the same family." * 
I may at once point out that in this passage Darwin 
speaks about man and gorillas indiscriminately. 
Nor is there any reason why we as anthropologists 
should blame him for this confusion — the least our 
science can do is to deprive us of any vanities with 
regard to our anthropoid brethren ! But if philo- 
sophically the difference between a man and a monkey 
is insignificant, the distinction between family as we 

* S. Freud, Totem and Taboo, 1918, pp. 207-208, quoted from 
Darwin, " The Descent of Man," vol. ii, chapter 20, pp. 603-604. 


find it among the anthropoid apes and the organized 
human family is of extreme importance for the 
sociologist. He has to discriminate clearly between 
animal life in the state of nature and human life under 
culture. To Darwin, who was developing a biological 
argument against the hypothesis of promiscuity, 
the distinction was irrelevant. Had he been dealing 
with the origins of culture, had he tried to define the 
moment of its birth, the line of distinction between 
nature and culture would have been all-important. 
Freud who, as we shall see, actually does attempt to 
grasp and to render the " great event with which 
culture began ", fails completely in his task in that 
he loses sight of this line of division and places culture 
in conditions in which, ex hypothesi, it cannot exist. 
Darwin speaks, moreover, only about the wives of 
the leader of the herd, and not of any other females. 
He also states that the excommunicated young males 
succeed finally in finding a partner and do not trouble 
any more about their parental family. On both these 
points Freud substantially modifies the Darwinian 

Let me quote the words of the master of psycho- 
analysis in full so as to substantiate my criticism. 
Says Freud : " The Darwinian conception of the primal 
horde does not, of course, allow for the beginnings of 
totemism. There is only a violent, jealous father 
who keeps all the females for himself and drives away 


the growing sons " (p. 233). As we see, the old male is 
made to keep all the females for himself while the 
expelled sons remain somewhere in the neighbour- 
hood, banded together, in order to be ready for the 
hypothetical event. And indeed a crime is conjured 
up before our eyes as bloodcurdling as it is hypothetical, 
yet of the greatest importance in the history of Psycho- 
analysis, if not of Humanity ! For according to Freud 
it is destined to give birth to all future civilization. 
It is " the great event with which culture began and 
which ever since has not let mankind come to rest " ; 
it is the " deed that was in the beginning " ; it is the 
" memorable, criminal act with which . . . began 
social organization, moral restrictions and religion " 
(pp. 234, 239, 265). Let us hear the story of this 
primordial cause of all culture. 

" One day the expelled brothers joined forces, 
slew and ate the father, and thus put an end to the 
father horde. Together they dared and accomplished 
what would have remained impossible for them singly. 
Perhaps some advance in culture, like the use of a new 
weapon, had given them the feeling of superiority. 
Of course these cannibalistic savages ate their victim. 
This violent primal father had surely been the envied 
and feared model for each of the brothers. Now they 
accomplished their identification with him by devouring 
him and each acquired a part of his strength. The 
totem feast, which is perhaps mankind's first celebra- 


tion, would be the repetition and commemoration 
of this memorable . . . act . . . " (p. 234). 

This is the original act of human culture and yet 
in the middle of the description the author 
speaks about " some advance in culture ", about 
" the use of a new weapon ", and thus equips his 
pre-cultural animals with a substantial store of 
cultural goods and implements. No material culture 
is imaginable without the concomitant existence of 
organization, morality, and religion. As I shall 
show presently, this is not a mere quibble but it goes 
to the very heart of the matter. We shall see that the 
theory of Freud and Jones tries to explain the origins 
of culture by a process which implies the previous 
existence of culture and hence involves a circular 
argument. A criticism of this position will in fact 
naturally lead us right into the analysis of cultural 
process and of its foundations in biology. 



T3 EFORE we pass a detailed criticism on this theory, 
however, let us patiently hear all that Freud 
has to tell us in this matter — it is always worth while 
listening to him. "... the group of brothers banded 
together were dominated by the same contradictory 
feelings towards the father which we can demonstrate 
as the content of ambivalence of the father complex 
in all our children and in neurotics. They hated their 
father who stood so powerfully in the way of their 
sexual demands and their desire for power, but they 
also loved and admired him. After they had satisfied 
their hate by his removal and had carried out their 
wish for identification with him, the suppressed tender 
impulses had to assert themselves. This took place 
in the form of remorse, a sense of guilt was formed 
which coincided here with the remorse generally felt. 
The dead now became stronger than the living had 
been, even as we observe it to-day in the destinies 
of men. What the father's presence had formerly 
prevented they themselves now prohibited in the 
psychic situation of ' subsequent obedience ' which we 
know so weU from psycho-analysis. They undid their 



deed by declaring that the killing of the father 
substitute, the totem, was not allowed, and renounced 
the fruits of their deed by denying themselves the 
liberated women. Thus they created the two funda- 
mental taboos of totemism out of the sense of guilt 
of the son, and for this very reason these had to 
correspond with the two repressed wishes of the 
(Edipus complex. Whoever disobeyed became guilty 
of the two only crimes which troubled primitive 
society" (pp. 235-236). 

We see thus the parricidal sons immediately after 
the act of murder engaged in laying down laws and 
religious taboos, instituting forms of social organiza- 
tion, in brief moulding cultural forms which will be 
handed on far down the history of mankind. And 
here again we are faced by the dilemma : did the 
raw material of culture exist already — in which case 
the " great event " could not have created culture 
as it is supposed by Freud to have done, or was culture 
at the time of the deed not yet in existence — in which 
case the sons could not have instituted sacraments, 
established laws and handed on customs. 

Freud does not completely ignore this point, though 
he hardly seems to have recognized its crucial 
importance. He anticipates the question as to the 
possibilities of a lasting influence of the primeval 
crime and of its enduring action across successive 
generations of man. To meet any possible objections 


Freud summons to his aid another hypothesis : " . . . it 
can hardly have escaped anyone that we base every- 
thing upon the assumption of a psyche of the mass 
in which psychic processes occur as in the psychic 
hfe of the individual " (p. 259). But this assumption 
of a collective soul is not sufficient. We have to 
endow this comprehensive entity also with an almost 
unhmited memory. "... we let the sense of guilt 
for a deed survive for thousands of years, remaining 
effective in generations which could not have known 
anything of this deed. We allow an emotional process 
such as might have arisen among generations of sons 
that had been ill-treated by their fathers, to continue 
to new generations which had escaped such treatment 
by the very removal of the father " (p. 259). 

Freud is somewhat uneasy about the validity of 
this assumption but an argumentum ad hominem is 
ready at hand. Freud assures us that however daring 
his hypothesis " . . . we ourselves do not have to 
carry the whole responsibility for such daring " 
(p. 260). Not only that : the writer lays down a 
universal rule for anthropologists and sociologists. 
" Without the assumption of a mass psyche, or a 
continuity in the emotional life of mankind which 
permits us to disregard the interruptions of psychic 
acts through the transgression of individuals, social 
psychology could not exist at all. If psychic processes 
of one generation did not continue in the next, if each 


had to acquire its attitude towards life afresh, there 
would be no progress in this field and almost no 
development " (p. 260). And here we touch on a very 
important point : the methodological necessity of the 
figment of a collective soul. As a point of fact 
no competent anthropologist now makes any such 
assumption of " mass psyche ", of the inheritance of 
acquired " psychic dispositions ", or of any " psychic 
continuity" transcending the limits of the individual 
soul.^ On the other hand anthropologists can clearly 
indicate what the medium is in which the experiences 
of each generation are deposited and stored up for 
successive generations. This medium is that body 
of material objects, traditions, and stereotyped mental 
processes which we call culture. It is super-individual 
but not psychological. It is moulded by man and 
moulds him in turn. It is the only medium in 
which man can express any creative impulse and 
thus add his share to the common stock of 

^ All the anthropological authorities, for instance, upon whom 
Freud bases his work, Lang, Crawley, Marett, never once in their 
analysis of custom, belief, and institution have employed such or a 
similar concept. Frazer above all rules this conception consciously 
and methodically out of his work (personal communication). 
Durkheim, who verges upon this metaphysical fallacy, has been 
criticized on this point by most modem anthropologists. Leading 
sociologists such as Hobhouse, Westermarck, Dewey, and social 
anthropologists such as Lowie, Kroeber, Boas, have consistently 
avoided the introduction of " the collective sensorium ". For 
a searching and destructive criticism of certain attempts at a 
sociological use of " mass psyche " compare M. Ginsberg, " The 
Psychology of Society " (1921). 


human values. It is the only reservoir from which 
the individual can draw when he wants to utilize 
the experiences of others for his personal benefit. 
A fuller analysis of culture to which we shall presently 
pass will reveal to us the mechanism by which it is 
created, maintained, and transmitted. This analysis 
will also show us that the complex is the natural 
by-product of the coming into existence of culture. 

It will be obvious to any reader of Dr. Jones's 
article that he fully adopts Freud's hypothesis about 
the origins of human civilization. From the passages 
previously quoted it is clear that to him the (Edipus 
complex is the origin of everything. Hence it must 
be a pre-cultural formation. Dr. Jones even more 
explicitly commits himself to Freud's theory in the 
following passages : " Far from being led by considera- 
tion of the subject, as Malinowski was, to abandon or 
revise Freud's conception of the ' primal horde ' 
(Atkinson's ' cyclopean family '), it seems to me, 
on the contrary, that this conception furnishes the 
most satisfactory explanation of the complicated 
problems which we have been discussing " (p. 130). Dr. 
Jones also is in full agreement with the racial memory 
of the original crime, for he speaks about the 
" inheritance of impulses dating from the primal 
horde " (p. 121). 



T ET us examine now point by point the hypotheses 
of Freud and Jones. The hypothesis of the 
"primeval horde "has in itself nothing objectionable 
to the anthropologist. We know that the earliest form 
of human and pre-human kinship was the family 
based on marriage with one or more females. In 
accepting the Darwinian view of kinship, psycho- 
analysis has discarded the hypotheses of primitive 
promiscuity, group marriage and sexual communism, 
and in this it has the full support of competent 
anthropologists. But as we have seen, Darwin made 
no exphcit distinction between the animal and the 
human status, and Freud in his reconstruction of 
Darwin's argument obliterated whatever distinction was 
implied in the great naturalist's account. We have to 
enquire therefore into the constitution of the family 
at the anthropoid end of the human level of develop- 
ment. We have to ask the question : What are the 
bonds of union within the family, before it became 
human and after ? What is the difference between 
animal and human kinship ; between the anthropoid 
family in the state of nature and the earliest type of 
human family under conditions of culture ? 

The pre-human anthropoid family was united by 



instinctive or innate bonds, modified by individual 
experience but not influenced by tradition, for animals 
have no language, no laws, no institutions. In the state 
of nature the male and female mate, driven by the 
selective sexual impulse operating at the time of rut 
and at that time only. After the impregnation of 
the female, a new impulse leads to the establishment 
of common life, the male acting as protector and 
guarding over the process of pregnancy. With the 
act of birth, the maternal impulses of suckling, tending, 
and caring for the offspring appear in the female, 
while the male responds to the new situation by 
providing food, keeping watch, and if need be engaging 
in dangerous combats in the defence of the family. 
Considering the protracted growth and slow ripening 
of the individual among the anthropoid apes, it is 
indispensable for the species that parental love should 
arise in both male and female and last for some time 
after birth until the new individual is ready to look 
after himself. As soon as he is mature there is no 
biological need to keep the family together. As we 
shall see, this need arises in culture, where for the sake 
of co-operation the members of the family must remain 
united ; while for the sake of handing on tradition 
the new generation must remain in contact with the 
previous one. But in the pre-human Cyclopean family 
as soon as the male or female children became 
independent they would naturally leave the horde. 


This is what we find empirically in every simian 
species. This subserves the interests of the species 
and has therefore to be assumed on general principles. 
It also tallies with all which we can infer from our 
general knowledge of animal instincts. We find also 
in most higher mammals that the old male leaves 
the herd as soon as he is past full vigour and thus 
makes room for a younger guardian. This is service- 
able for a species, for as with man temper in animals 
does not improve with age, and an old leader is 
less useful and more liable to create conflict. In all 
this we see that the working of instincts in the 
condition of nature leaves no room for special complica- 
tions, inner conflicts, suspended emotions or tragical 

Family life in the highest animal species is thus 
cemented and governed by innate emotional attitudes. 
Where the biological need arises there also appear 
the appropriate mental responses. When the need 
ceases the emotional attitude disappears. If we 
define instinct as a pattern of behaviour in direct 
response to a situation, a response accompanied by 
pleasurable feelings — then we can say that animal 
family life is determined by a chain of linked instincts : 
courtship, mating, common life, tenderness towards 
infants and mutual help of the parents. Each of these 
links follows the other, releasing it completely, for 
it is characteristic of such concatenations of instinctive 


responses that each new situation requires a new type 
of behaviour and a new emotional attitude. Psycho- 
logically it is very important to realize that each new 
response replaces and obliterates the old emotional 
attitude ; that no traces of the previous emotion 
are carried over into the new one. While governed 
by a new instinct the animal is no more in the throes 
of a previous one. Remorse, mental conflict, 
ambivalent emotion — these are cultural, that is human, 
and not animal responses. The working of instincts, 
the unrolling of instinctive sequences, may be more or 
less successful, accompanied by more or less friction, 
but it does not leave any room for " endopsychic 
tragedies ". 

What is the importance of all this in respect to the 
hypothesis of primeval crime ? I have pointed out 
repeatedly that the Great Tragedy has been placed 
by Freud at the threshold of culture and as its 
inaugural act. Putting aside the several direct quota- 
tions from Freud and Jones — and these could be easily 
multiplied — it is important to realize that this is an 
assumption indispensable to their theories : all their 
hypotheses would collapse if we do not make culture 
begin with the Totemic Parricide. To the psycho- 
analyst the (Edipus complex is, as we know, the 
foundation of all culture. This must mean to them 
not only that the complex governs all cultural 
phenomena but also that it preceded them all 


temporarily. The complex is the fons et origo out of 
which there has grown the totemic order, the first 
elements of law, the beginnings of ritual, the institution 
of mother-right, everything in fact which to the general 
anthropologist and to the psycho-analyst counts as 
the first elements of culture. Dr. Jones objects, 
moreover, to my attempt at tracing any cultural 
causes of the (Edipus complex just because this complex 
antedates all culture. But it is obvious that if the 
complex has preceded all cultural phenomena, then 
a fortiori the totemic crime, which is the cause of 
the complex, must be placed still further back. 

After having thus established that the event must 
have happened before culture, we are faced with the 
other alternative of our dilemma : could that totemic 
crime have happened in the state of nature ? Could 
it have left traces in tradition and culture, which 
ex hypothesi did not exist at that time ? As indicated 
above, we would have to assume that by one act 
of collective parricide the Ape had attained culture 
and become Man. Or again, that by the same act 
they acquired the so-called racial memory, a new 
super-animal endowment. 

Let us analyze this now in more detail. In the 
family life of a pre-human anthropoid species each 
link in the chain of instincts is released as soon as 
it ceases to be serviceable. Past instinctive attitudes 
leave no active traces, and neither conflict nor complex 


attitudes are possible. These assertions should, I 
submit, be further tested by the student of animal 
psychology, but they embody all that we know about 
the subject. If this be so, however, we have to challenge 
the premises of Freud's Cyclopean h5^otheses. Why 
should the father have to expel the sons if they 
naturally and instinctively are inclined to leave the 
the family as soon as they have no more need of 
parental protection ? Why should they lack females, 
if from other groups, as well as from their own, adult 
children of the other sex have also to come out ? 
Why should the young males remain hanging around 
the parental horde, why should they hate the father 
and desire his death ? As we know they are glad to 
be free and they have no wish to return to the parental 
horde. Why should they finally even attempt or 
accomplish the cumbersome and unpleasant act of 
killing the old male, while by merely waiting for his 
retirement they might gain a free access to the horde 
should they so desire ? 

Each of these questions challenges one of the un- 
warranted assumptions implied in Freud's h5^othesis. 
Freud in fact burdens his Cyclopean family with a 
number of tendencies, habits, and mental attitudes 
which would constitute a lethal endowment for any 
animal species. It is clear that such a view is untenable 
on biological grounds. We cannot assume the 
existence in the state of nature of an anthropoid 


species in which the most important business of 
propagation is regulated by a system of instincts 
hostile to every interest of the species. It is 
easy to perceive that the primeval horde has been 
equipped with all the bias, maladjustments and ill- 
tempers of a middle-class European family, and then 
let loose in a prehistoric jungle to run riot in a most 
attractive but fantastic hypothesis. 

Let us 5aeld, however, to the temptation of Freud's 
inspiring speculations and admit for the sake of the 
argument that the primeval crime had been committed. 
Even then we are faced by insurmountable difficulties 
in accepting the consequences. As we saw, we are 
asked to beUeve that the totemic crime produces 
remorse which is expressed in the sacrament of endo- 
cannibalistic totemic feast, and in the institution 
of sexual taboo. This impUes that the parricidal 
sons had a conscience. But conscience is a most 
unnatural mental trait imposed upon man by culture. 
It also impUes that they had the possibilities of 
legislating, of establishing moral values, religious 
ceremonies and social bonds. All of which again it is 
impossible to assume or imagine, for the simple reason 
that ex hypothesi the events are happening in 
pre-cultural milieu, and culture, we must remember, 
cannot be created in one moment and by one act. 

The actual transition from the state of nature into that 
of culture was not done by one leap, it was not a rapid 


process, certainly not a sharp transition. We have 
to imagine the early developments of the first elements 
of culture — speech, tradition, material inventions, 
conceptual thought — as a very laborious and very slow 
process achieved in a cumulative manner by infinitely 
many, infinitely small steps integrated over enormous 
stretches of time. This process we cannot try to 
reconstruct in detail, but we can state the relevant 
factors of the change, we can analyze the situation of 
early human culture and indicate within certain limits 
the mechanism by which it came about. 

To sum up our critical analysis : we have found that 
the totemic crime must have been placed at the very 
origins of culture ; that it must be made the first cause 
of culture if it is to have any sense at all. This means 
that we have to assume the crime and its consequences 
as happening still in the state of nature, but such an 
assumption involves us in a number of contradictions. 
We find that there is in reality a complete absence 
of motive for a parricidal crime, since the working of 
instincts is in animal conditions well adjusted to the 
situation ; since it leads to conflicts but not to repressed 
mental states ; since concretely the sons have no reason 
for hefting their father after they have left the horde. 
In the second place we have seen that in the state of 
nature there is also a complete absence of any means 
by which the consequences of the totemic crime could 
have been fixed into the cultural institutions. There 


is a complete absence of any cultural medium in 
which ritual, laws, and morals could have been 

Both objections could be summarized in the verdict 
that it is impossible to assume origins of culture 
as one creative act by which culture, fully armed, 
springs into being out of one crime, cataclysm or 

In our criticism we have concentrated our attention 
on what appears to be the most fundamental 
objection to Freud's hypothesis, an objection 
connected with the very nature of culture and of 
cultural process. Several other objections of detail 
could be registered against this hypothesis but they 
have been already set forth in an excellent article 
of Professor Kroeber's in which the anthropological 
as well as the psycho-analytical inconsistencies of the 
hypothesis are lucidly and convincingly listed.^ 

There is, however, one more capital difficulty in which 
psycho-analysis involves itself by its speculations on 
totemic origins. If the real cause of the CEdipus 
complex and of culture into the bargain is to be 
sought in that traumatic act of birth by parricide ; 
if the complex merely survived in the " race memory 
of mankind " — then the complex ought obviously 
to wear out with time. On Freud's theory the CEdipus 

^ " Totem and Taboo, an Ethnologic Psychoanalysis," American 
Anthropologist, 1920, pp. 48 seqq. 


complex should have been a dreadful reality at first, 
a haunting memory later, but in the highest culture 
it should tend to disappear. 

This corrollary seems inescapable, but there is no 
need of driving it home dialectically, for Dr. Jones gives 
it a full and lucid expression in his article. According 
to him patriarchy, the social organization of the highest 
cultures, marks indeed the happy solution of all the 
difficulties due to the primeval crime. 

" The patriarchal system, as we know it, betokens 
acknowledging the supremacy of the father and yet 
the ability to accept this even with affection, without 
having recourse to a system either of mother-right or 
of complicated taboos. It means the taming of man, 
the gradual assimilation of the (Edipus complex. 
At last man could face his real father and live with 
him. Well might Freud say that the recognition of 
the father's place in the family signified the most 
important progress in cultural development." ^ 

Thus Dr. Jones, and on his authority Freud himself, 
has drawn the inevitable consequence. They admit 
that within their scheme patriarchal culture — the one 
most distant from the original course of the complex — 
is also the one where the gradual assimilation of the 
" (Edipus complex " has been achieved. This fits 
perfectly well into the scheme of Totem and Taboo. 
But how does it fit into the general scheme of 

^ Jones, loc cit., p. 130. 


psycho-analysis and how does it bear the hght of 
anthropology ? 

As to the first question, was not the existence of the 
(Edipus complex discovered in one of our modem 
patriarchal societies ? Is this complex not day by day 
being re-discovered in the countless individual psycho- 
analyses carried on all over the modem patriarchal 
world ? A psycho-analyst should no doubt be the last 
to answer these questions in the negative. The (Edipus 
complex does not seem to have been so well " assimi- 
lated " after all. Even if it be admitted that a great 
deal of exaggeration exists in psycho-analytic findings 
we have ordinary sociological observation to vindicate 
the claim of psycho-analysis on this point. But the 
psycho-analyst cannot have it both ways. He cannot 
try to cure most ills of the individual mind and of 
society by dragging their family maladjustments out 
of the sub-conscious, while at the same time he cheer- 
fully assures us that " the supremacy of the father 
is fully acknowledged in our society " and that it is 
accepted " even with affection ". Indeed, extreme 
patriarchal institutions in which patria potestas is 
carried to its bitter end are the very soil for typical 
family maladjustments. The psycho-analysts have 
been busy proving that to us from Shakespeare and 
the Bible, from Roman history and from Greek 
mythology. Did not the very eponjmious hero 
of the complex — if such an extension of the term be 


allowed — live in a society pronouncedly patriarchal ? 
And was not his tragedy based on the father's jealousy 
and superstitious fear — motives which, by the way, are 
typically sociological ? Could the myth or the tragedy 
unfold before us with the same powerful and fatal 
effect, unless we felt the puppets moved by a 
patriarchal destiny ? 

Most modem neuroses, the dreams of patients, the 
myths of Indo-Germanic peoples, our literatures and 
our patriarchal creeds have been interpreted in terms 
of the CEpidus complex — i.e. under the assumption 
that in pronounced father-right the son never recognizes 
" the father's place in the family "; that he does not 
like to " face his real father "; that he is unable to 
" live with him " in peace. Surely psycho-analysis 
as theory and as practice stands and falls with the 
truth of the contention that our modem culture 
suffers from the maladjustments covered by the term 
(Edipus complex. 

What has anthropology to say about the optimistic 
view expressed in the passage quoted above ? If 
the patriarchal regime means the happy solution of 
the (Edipus complex, the stage when man could face 
his father, and so on — then where on earth does the 
complex exist in an unassimilated form ? That it is 
" deflected " under mother-right has been proved 
in the first two parts of this book and it has been 
independently re-vindicated by Dr. Jones himself. 


Whether the CEdipus complex in its full splendour does 
exist in a culture never studied empirically from this 
point of view is an idle question. The object of the 
present work has been partly to stimulate field workers 
to further research. What such an empirical study 
might or might not reveal I for one shall not try to fore- 
tell. But it seems to me that to deny the problem, to 
cover it up with an obviously inadequate assumption, 
and to obliterate as much as has been already done 
towards its solution, is not to render a service either 
to anthropology or to psycho-analysis. 

I have pointed out a series of contradictions and 
obscurities in the psycho-analytic approach to this 
question, taking Dr. Jones's interesting contribution 
as my main text. Such inconsistencies are : the idea 
of a " repressed complex " ; the assertion that 
mother-right and ignorance of paternity are corre- 
lated and yet independent ; the view that patriarchy 
is a happy solution of the (Edipus complex as 
well as its cause. All these discrepancies centre in 
my opinion round the doctrine that the (Edipus 
complex is the vera causa of social and cultural 
phenomena instead of being the result ; that it originated 
in the primeval crime ; that it continued in racial 
memory as a system of inherited, collective tendencies. 
I would like to indicate just one more point. Taken 
as a real historical fact, that is one which has to be 
placed in space and time and concrete circumstance, 


how is the primitive parricide to be imagined ? Have 
we to assume that once upon a time, in one super- 
horde, at one spot, one crime had been committed ? 
That this crime then created culture and that this 
culture spread all over the world by primeval diffusion, 
changing apes into men wherever it reached ? This 
assumption falls to the ground as soon as formulated. 
The alternative is equally difficult to imagine : it is 
a sort of epidemic of minor parricides occurring all 
over the world, each horde going on with its Cyclopean 
tyranny and then breaking into crime and thus into 
culture. The more we look at the hypothesis concretely, 
the more we try to elaborate it, the less do we feel 
inclined to treat it as anything but a " Just-so story ", 
as Professor Kroeber has called it, an appellation not 
resented by Freud himself.^ 

* Compare Freud's Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 
Sign. Freud, 1922, p. 90. The name of Professor Kroeber is mis- 
spelled into " Kroeger " right through all the successive editions. 
One might inquire what is the psycho-analytic cause of this lapse 
on the principle developed in The Psych '^pathology of Everyday Life, 
that no mistake is without its motive. It is almost unpardonable 
that this misprint of the name of a leading American scholar has 
been carried over into the American translation of Freud's book ! 



T HAVE, up to now, used the word " complex " to 
denote the typical attitudes towards members 
of the family. I have even retrimmed it into a new 
expression, the Nuclear Family Complex, which is 
intended to be a generalization, applicable to various 
cultures, of the term CEdipus complex, whose applica- 
bility, I maintain, is restricted to the Aryan, patriarchal 
society. But, in the interests of scientific nomenclature, 
I shall have to sacrifice this new compound, Nuclear 
Family Complex, for not only is it advisable never to 
introduce new terms, but it is always a laudable act 
to expurgate science of any terminological intruder, 
if it can be proved that it is jumping the claim of 
one already established. I believe that the word 
" complex " carries with it certain implications 
which make it altogether unsuitable, except as a 
scientific colloquialism — what the Germans call Schlag- 
wort. At the least we must make clear what we 
mean by it. 

The word " complex " dates from a certain phase 
of psycho-analysis when this was still in close associa- 
tion with therapy, when it was in fact not much more 
than a method of treating neurosis. " Complex " 



meant the pathogenous, repressed emotional attitude 
of the patient. But it has now become questionable 
whether in general psychology one can sever and isolate 
the repressed part of a man's attitude towards a 
person, and treat it separately from the non-repressed 
elements. In our study, we have found that the various 
emotions which constitute the attitude towards a- 
person are so closely connected and intertwined that 
they form a closely knit organic insoluble system. 
Thus, in relation to the father, the feelings which make 
up veneration and idealization are essentially bound 
up with the dislike, hatred or scorn which are their 
reflections. These negative feelings are in fact partly 
reactions to an over-strained exaltation of the father, 
shadows cast into the unconscious by the too glaring 
idealization of the non-ideal father. To sever the 
shadow from the part which is in the " foreconscious " 
and that which is in the unconscious is impossible; 
they are indissolubly connected. The psycho-analyst 
in his consultation room can perhaps neglect the open, 
obvious elements of the attitude which contribute 
nothing further to the malady ; he can isolate the 
repressed oijes and make of them an entity, calling it 
a complex. But as soon as he leaves his neurotic 
patients and enters the lecture room with a general 
psychological theory, he might as well realize that 
complexes do not exist, that certainly they do not lead 
an independent existence in the unconscious and that 


they are only part of an organic whole, of which 
the essential constituents are not repressed at all. 

As a sociologist I am not here concerned with the 
pathological results, but with their normal, ordinary 
foundations. And, although it was better to leave 
this theoretical analysis till now, when we can sub- 
stantiate it by fact, yet throughout our account of 
family influences, I have clearly indicated the " fore- 
conscious " as well as the unconscious elements. 
Psycho-analysis has the great merit of having shown 
that the typical sentiments towards father and mother 
include negative as well as positive elements ; that 
they have a repressed portion, as well as one above the 
surface of consciousness. But this must not make us 
forget that both portions are equally important. 

Since we see that the conception of an isolated 
repressed attitude is useless in sociology, we must try 
to gain a clear vision of how we can generalize it 
and with what psychological doctrines we should link 
up our conception of what we had hitherto called 
" nuclear family complex ", and which includes besides 
" unconscious " also overt elements. I have indicated 
clearly that certain new tendencies of modern 
psychology have a special affinity to psycho-analysis. 
I meant, of course, the very important advance of 
knowledge about our emotional life, inaugurated by 
Mr. A. F. Shand in his theory of sentiments and 
developed later by Stout, Westermarck, McDougall, 


and a few others. Mr. Shand was the first to reahze 
that emotiorts cannot be treated as loose elements, 
unconnected and unorganized, floating in our mental 
medium to make now and then an isolated and 
accidental appearance. His theory, as well as all 
the newer work on emotions, is based on the principle 
first enunciated by himself : . namely, that our 
emotional life is definitely co-ordinated with the 
environment ; that a number of things and persons 
claim our emotional responses. Round each 
person or object the emotions are organized into a 
definite system — the love or hate or devotion we 
feel for a parent, a country or a life-pursuit. Such 
a system of organized emotions Mr. Shand calls a 
sentiment. The ties which bind us to the various 
members of our family, patriotism, ideals of truth, 
righteousness, devotion to science — all these are 
sentiments. And the life of every man is dominated by 
a limited number of these sentiments. The theory of 
sentiments was first outlined by Mr. Shand in one or two 
short essays which must be regarded as epoch-making, 
and which later were expanded into a large volume.^ 
In his book, Mr. Shand assumes an innate predisposition 
for a few systems such as love and hate, into each of 
which there enter a number of emotions. Every 
emotion again is to Mr. Shand a complex type of 

* " Character and the Emotions ", in Mind, new series, vol. i, and 
The Foundations of Character, 1st edn., 1917. 


mental response to a definite type of situation, so that 
every emotion has at its command a number of 
instinctive reactions. Mr. Shand's theory of senti- 
ments will always remain of paramount importance 
for the sociologist, since social bonds as well as cultural 
values are sentiments standardized under the influence 
of tradition and culture. In the study of family life, 
as it develops in two different civilizations, we have 
given a concrete application of the Shandian principles, 
the theory of sentiments with reference to a definite 
social problem. We have seen how the child's attitude 
towards the most important items in his environment is 
gradually formed, and we have examined the influences 
which contribute towards its formation. The correction 
and addition which psycho-analysis has allowed us to 
make to Mr. Shand's theory is the consideration of the 
repressed elements of a sentiment. But these repressed 
elements cannot be isolated into a water-tight con- 
partment, and they cannot as a " complex " be regarded 
as something different and distinguishable from the 
" sentiment ". We see, therefore, that the theory 
to which we must attach our results in order to put them 
on a sound theoretical basis is Shand's theory of the 
sentiments, and that instead of speaking of a " nuclear 
complex " we should have to speak of the family 
sentiments, of kinship ties, typical of a given society. 

The attitudes or sentiments towards father, mother, 
sister and brother do not grow up isolated, detached 


from one another. The organic, indissoluble unity 
of the family welds also the psychological sentiments 
towards its members into one connected system. This 
is shown very clearly by our results. Thus the 
expression " nuclear family complex " is equivalent 
to the conception of a correlated system of sentiments, 
or, shortly, of a configuration of sentiments, typical 
in a patriarchal or a matriarchal society. 





TN the foregoing part of this book, in which we have 
been mainly concerned with the discussion of 
certain psycho-analytic views, our results have been 
mainly critical : we have tried to establish the principle 
that in a pre-cultural condition there is no medium 
in which social institutions, morals, and religion could 
be moulded ; that there is no memory mechanism by 
which to maintain and to transmit the institutions 
after they have been established. The position reached 
is perhaps unassailable to those who really under- 
stand the crucial fact that culture cannot be created 
by one act or in one moment and that institutions, 
morals, and religion could not be conjured up, even 
by the greatest cataclysm, among animals who have 
not yet emerged from the state of nature. But naturally 
we are not satisfied merely with denying but also 
want to affirm. We do not merely wish to point out 
mistakes, but we want to throw light on the actual 
process. To this end we have to analyze the 
relation between cultural and natural processes. 



The type of behaviour under culture differs 
essentially from animal behaviour in the state of nature. 
Man, however simple his culture, disposes of a material 
outfit of implements, weapons, domestic chattels ; 
he moves within a social milieu which gives him help 
and controls him in turn ; he communicates by speech 
and thus develops concepts of a rational religious and 
magical character. Thus man disposes of a body of 
material possessions, lives within a type of social 
organization, communicates by language, and is moved 
by systems of spiritual values. These are perhaps the 
four main headings under which we usually classify 
the body of man's cultural achievements. Thus culture 
appears to us when we meet it as a fact already accom- 
plished. And let us clearly and explicitly recognize 
that we never can observe it in statu nascendi. Nor 
is it at all profitable to manufacture hypotheses about 
the " original events of cultural birth ". What can 
we do then in trying to reflect upon the beginnings of 
human culture, that is if we want to do it without 
having recourse to any extravagant hypotheses or 
unwarrantable assumptions ? There is one important 
thing to do, namely, to indicate what part various 
factors of cultural development have played in the 
process ; what they imply in psychological modification 
of man's endowment, and in what way non- 
psychological elements can influence this endowment. 
For the factors of cultural development are intertwined 


and essentially dependent upon each other, and while 
we have no knowledge and no indications about 
sequences in development, while in all speculations 
about beginnings the element of time entirely escapes 
our intellectual control, we can yet study the correlations 
of the factors and thus gain a great deal of information. 
We have to study these correlations in full cultural 
development, but we can trace them back into more and 
more primitive forms. If we thus arrive at a fixed 
scheme of dependence, if certain lines of correlation 
appear in all cultural phenomena, we can say that 
any hypothesis which violates these laws must be 
considered void. More than this : if the laws of all 
cultural process disclose to us the paramount influence 
of certain factors, we must assume that these factors 
have also been controlling the origins of culture. In 
this sense the concept of origins does not imply priority 
in time or causal effectiveness, but merely indicates 
the universal presence of certain active factors at 
all stages of development, hence also at the beginning. 
Let us start with the recognition that the main 
categories of culture must from the very outset have 
been intertwined and simultaneously at work. They 
could not have originated one after the other, and they 
cannot be placed in any scheme of temporal sequence. 
Material culture, for instance, could not have come into 
being before man was able to use his implements in 
traditional technique which, as we know, implies the 


existence of knowledge. Knowledge again and tradition 
are impossible without conceptual thought and 
language. Language, thought, and material culture are 
thus correlated, and must have been so at any stage 
of development, hence also at the beginnings of culture. 
The material arrangements of living, again, such as 
housing, household implements, means of carrying on 
daily life, are essential correlates and prerequisites of 
social organization. The hearth and the threshold 
not only symbolically stand for family life, but are 
real social factors in the formation of kinship bonds. 
Morals, again, constitute a force without which man 
could not battle against his impulses or even go beyond 
his instinctive endowment, and that he has to do 
constantly under culture even in his simplest technical 
activities. It is the changes in instinctive endowment 
which interest us most in this context, for here we touch 
the question of repressed drives, of modified impulsive 
tendencies, that is, the domain of the " unconscious ". 
I shall try to show that the neglect to study what 
happens to human instincts under culture is responsible 
for the fantastic hypothesis advanced to account 
for the (Edipus complex. It will be my aim to show that 
the beginning of culture implies the repression of 
instincts, and that all the essentials of the (Edipus 
complex or any other " complex " are necessary by- 
products in the process of the gradual formation of 


To this end I shall try to show that between the 
human parent and child under conditions of culture 
there must arise incestuous temptations which are not 
likely to occur in animal families governed by true 
instincts. I shall also estabhsh that these temptations 
have to be met and ruthlessly repressed in mankind, 
since incest and organized family life are incompatible. 
Again, culture implies an education which cannot 
be carried on without coercive authority. This 
authority in human society is supplied within the 
family by the father, and the attitude between father 
and son gives rise to suppressed hatred and other 
elements of the complex. 



npHE fundamental change in the mechanism of 
instinctive responses has to be studied upon the very 
subject matter of our present inquiry : the early forms 
of family life and the transition between animal and 
human family. Upon the human family are focussed 
all psycho-analytic interests and the family is, in the 
opinion of an anthropological school to which the 
writer belongs, the most important group in primitive 
societies.! The following comparison of courtship, 
mating, matrimonial relations and parental cares in 

^ It is clear that in this statement, as throughout the book, I imply 
that the tj^ical form of the human family is based on monogamous 
marriage. The wide prevalence of monogamy in all human societies 
is also assumed by Dr. Lowie in his Primitive Society (see especially 
chapter iii). A very interesting and important contribution to the 
problem is to be found in Capt. Pitt-Rivers's Contact of Races 
and Clash of Culture, 1927 (see especially chapters viii, sees. 1, 2, 3, 
and xi, sec. 1). Capt. Pitt- Rivers urges the biological and socio- 
logical importance of polygyny at the lower levels of culture. 
Without fully accepting his view, I admit that the problem will 
have to be rediscussed from the point of view advanced by him. 
I still maintain, however, that the importance of polygyny is to 
be found in the role which it plays in differentiating the higher from 
the lower classes in a society ; the plurality of wives allows a chief 
to obtain economic and political advantages and thus provides a 
basis for distinctions of rank. 



animal and human societies respectively, will show 
in what sense the family must be considered as the cell 
of society, as the starting point of all human 

There is one point which must be settled before we 
can conveniently proceed with our argument. Very 
often it is assumed by anthropologists that humanity 
developed from a gregarious simian species and that 
man inherited from his animal ancestors the so-called 
" herd instincts ". Now this hypothesis is entirely 
incompatible with the view here taken that common 
sociability develops by extension of the family bonds 
and from no other sources. Until it has been shown that 
the assumption of pre-cultural gregariousness is entirely 
unfounded ; until a radical difference in nature is 
shown between human sociability, which is a cultural 
achievement, and animal gregariousness, which is an 
innate endowment, it is futile to show how social 
organization develops out of early kinship groups. 
Instead of having to face the " herd instinct " at every 
turn of our argument and show its inadequacy then 
and there, it is best to deal with this mistaken point of 
view from the outset. 

It is idle, I believe, to consider the purely zoo- 
logical question whether our pre-human ancestors 
lived in big herds and were endowed with the 
necessary innate tendencies which allow animals to 
cb-operate in herds, or whether they lived in single 


families. The question we have to answer is whether 
any forms of human organization can be derived from 
any animal types of herding ; that is whether organized 
behaviour can be traced back to any forms of animal 
gregariousness or " herd-instinct " 

Let us first consider animal gregariousness. It is a 
fact that a number of animal species are so constituted 
that they have to lead their life in more or less numerous 
groups, and that they solve the main problems of their 
existence by innate forms of co-operation. Can we say 
with regard to such animal species that they possess a 
specific ' herd ' or ' gregarious ' instinct ? All competent 
definitions of instinct agree that it must mean a 
fixed pattern of behaviour, associated with certain 
anatomical mechanisms correlated to organic needs 
and showing a general uniformity throughout the 
species. The various specific methods by which animals 
carry on the process of search for food, of nutrition ; 
the series of instincts which constitute mating, the 
rearing and education of offspring ; the working of the 
various locomotive arrangements ; the functioning of 
primitive defensive and offensive mechanisms, — these 
constitute instincts. In each we can correlate the 
instinct with an anatomical apparatus, with a 
physiological mechanism and a specific aim in the vast 
biological process of individual and racial existence. 
Throughout the species each individual will behave 
in an identical manner, provided that the conditions 


of its organism and the external circumstances are 
present to release the instinct. 

What about gregariousness ? It is interesting to 
note that we find the division of functions, the 
co-ordination of activities, and the general integration 
of collective life most pronounced among relatively low 
forms of animal life such as the insects, and also, 
perhaps, coral colonies. (Compare the writer's article 
on " Instincts and Culture " in Niture, July 19, 1924.) 
But neither with the social insects nor with gregarious 
mammals do we find a specific anatomical outfit 
subserving any specific act of " herding ". The 
collective behaviour of animals subserves all processes, 
it envelops all instincts, but it is not a specific instinct. 
It might be called an innate component, a general 
modification of all instincts which makes the animals 
of the species co-operate in most vital affairs. It is 
important to note that in all the collective behaviour 
of animals co-operation is governed by innate 
adaptations and not by anything which could be called 
social organization in the sense in which we apply this 
word to humanity. This I have established more fully 
in the article mentioned above. 

Thus man could not have inherited a gregarious 
instinct, which no animal possesses, but only a diffused 
' gregariousness '. This would obviously mean that 
man has a general tendency to carry out certain 
adaptations by collective rather than individual 


behaviour, an assumption which would not help us 
very much in any concrete anthropological problem. 
Yet even the assumption of a tendency towards 
gregariousness can be shown to be completely 
erroneous. For is there any tendency in man to carry 
out all important acts in common ; or even any well- 
defined type of activity ' gregariously ' ? He is 
capable indeed of developing his powers of co-operation 
indefinitely, of harnessing increasing numbers of his 
fellow creatures to one cultural task. But whatever 
type of activity be considered, man is also capable of 
carrying on his work in isolation if the conditions and 
the type of culture demand it. In the processes con- 
nected with nutrition and the satisfaction of bodily 
wants we can find every activity : food gathering, 
fishing, agriculture, performed either in groups or 
alone, by collective labour as well as by individual 
effort. In carrying out the propagation of the race 
man is capable of developing collective forms of sexual 
competition, of group licence side by side with strictly 
individual forms of courtship. The collective tending of 
offspring, found at least among insects, has no parallel 
in human societies, where we see individual parenthood 
devoted to the care of individual children. Again, 
while many ceremonies of religion and magic are per- 
formed in common, individual initiation rites, solitary 
experiences and personal revelation play as great a 
part in religion as do collective forms of worship. 


There is no more trace of gregarious tendencies in the 
domain of the sacred than in any other type of human 
culture.^ Thus scrutiny of cultural activities would 
reveal no gregarious tendencies of any sort. As a matter 
of fact, the further we go back the more the individual 
character predominates, at least in economic work. 
It never becomes quite solitary, however, and the 
stage of " individual search for food " postulated 
by certain economists seems to me to be a fiction : 
even at low levels organized activities run always 
side by side with individual effort. But there 
is no doubt that as culture advances individual 
activities gradually disappear from the economic 
field and are replaced by collective production on an 
enormous scale. We would have then a case of an 
' instinct ' increasing with culture, which, as can be 
easily seen, is a reductio ad ahsurdum ! 

Another way of approaching the question of the 
so-called ' herd instinct ' would be to examine the 
nature of the bonds which unite men into social 
groups. These bonds, whether political, legal, linguistic, 
or customary are one and all of an acquired character ; 
in fact, it can be easily seen that there is no innate 
element in them at all. Take the bonds of speech which 
unite groups of people at all levels of culture and 

* This has been worked out in detail by myself in another 
publication, " Magic, Religion and Science " in Science, Religion 
and Reality, Collected Essays by Various Authors, edited by 
J. Needham, 1925. 


sharply distinguish them from those with whom 
it is impossible to communicate by word of mouth. 
Language is an entirely acquired bodily habit. It is 
not based on any innate apparatus, it is completely 
dependent upon the culture and the tradition of a 
tribe, that is upon elements which vary within the same 
species, and so cannot be specifically innate. It is 
clear, moreover, that no " language instinct " could 
have been inherited from our animal ancestors, 
who never communicated by a symbolic con- 
ventional code. 

Whatever form of organized co-operation we take, 
we see after a brief scnitiny that it is based on cultural 
artefacts and governed by conventional norms. In 
the economic activities, man uses tools and proceeds 
according to traditional methods. The social bonds 
which unite economic co-operative groups are therefore 
based upon a completely cultural framework. The same 
refers to an organization for purposes of war, of religious 
ceremonial, of the enforcement of justice. Nature could 
not have endowed human beings with specific responses 
towards artefacts, traditional codes, symbolic sounds, 
for the simple reason that aU these objects lie outside 
the domain of nature. The forms and forces of social 
organization are imposed upon a human community 
by culture and not by nature. There cannot be any 
innate tendency to run a locomotive or to use a machine 
gun, simply because these implements cannot have been 


anticipated by the natural conditions under which the 
human species has been biologically fashioned. 

In all his organized behaviour man is always 
governed by those elements which are outside any 
natural endowment. Psychologically, human 

organization is based upon sentiments, that is complex 
built-up attitudes and not innate tendencies. 
Technically, human association is always correlated 
with artefacts, with tools, implements, weapons, 
material contrivances all of which extend beyond man's 
natural anatomical equipment. Human sociality is 
always a combination, a dove-tailing of legal, political, 
and cultural functions. It is not a mere identity of 
the emotional impulse, not a similarity of response to 
the same stimulus, but an acquired habit dependent 
upon the existence of an artificial set of conditions. All 
this will become clearer after our subsequent discussion 
of the formation of social bonds out of innate 
tendencies within the family. 

To sum up, we can say that man obviously has to 
behave in common and that his organized behaviour 
is one of the comer-stones of culture. But while 
collective behaviour in animals is due to innate equip- 
ment, in man it is always a gradually built-up habit. 
Human sociality increases with culture, while if it had 
been mere gregarious ness it should decrease or, at least, 
remain constant. The fact is that the essential 
foundation of culture lies in a deep modification of 


innate endowment in which most instincts disappear, 
and are replaced by plastic though directed tendencies 
which can be moulded into cultural responses. The 
social integration of these responses is an important 
part of the process, but this integration is possible 
through the general plasticity of instincts and not 
through any specific gregarious tendency ! 

We may thus conclude that no type of human 
organization can be traced back to gregarious 
tendencies, still less to a specific ' herd instinct '. We 
shall be able to show that the necessary correlate of 
this principle is that the family is the only type of 
grouping which man takes over from the animal. In 
the process of transmission, however, this unit changes 
fundamentally with regard to its nature and con- 
stitution, though its form remains remarkably unaltered. 
The group of parents and children, the permanence of 
the maternal tie, the relation of father to his offspring, 
show remarkable analogies throughout human culture 
and in the world of higher animals. But as the family 
passes under the control of cultural elements, the 
instincts which have exclusively regulated it among 
pre-human apes become transformed into something 
which did not exist before man : I mean the cultural 
bonds of social organization. We have now to 
enquire into this transformation of instinctive responses 
into cultural behaviour. 



T ET us compare the chain of linked instinctive 
responses which in animals constitute courtship, 
marriage and family with the corresponding human 
institutions. Let us, point after point, go over each 
link in the love-making and family life of anthropoid 
apes and ascertain what in human beings corresponds 
to each. 

Among apes the courtship begins with a change in 
the female organism, determined by physiological 
factors and automatically releasing the sexual response 
in the male.^ The male then proceeds to court according 
to the selective type of wooing which prevails in a 
given species. In this all the individuals who are within 
the range of influence take part, because they are 
irresistibly attracted by the condition of the female. 

1 In this context I should like to refer the reader to Havelock 
ElUs's Studies in the Psychology of Scat (six vols.). In that work the 
biological nature of the regulation of the sexual instinct under 
culture is never lost sight of, and the parallel between animal and 
human societies is used as an important principle of explanation. 
For an interesting comment upon Darwin's Theory of Sexual Selec- 
tion, see vol. iii, p. 22 seqq. (1919 ed.). In this volume the reader 
will also find a general criticism of the various theories of the sex 
impulse. In volume iv. Sexual Selection in man is discussed ; 
volume vi deals with the sociological aspect of the problem. 

193 o 


Rut provides opportunities for display on the part of 
the males and for selection on the part of the female. 
All the factors which define animal behaviour at this 
stage are common to all individuals of the species. 
They work with such uniformity that for each animal 
species one set of data and only one has to be given by 
the zoologist, while, on the other hand, they vary 
considerably from one species to another, so that for 
each species a new description is necessary. But 
within the species the variations, whether individual 
or otherwise, are so small and irrelevant that the 
zoologist ignores them and is fully justified in doing so. 

Could an anthropologist provide such a formula 
for the mechanism of courtship and mating in the 
human species ? Obviously not. It is sufficient to 
open any book referring to the sexual life of humanity, 
whether it be the classical works of Havelock Ellis, 
Westermarck, and Frazer or the excellent descriptions 
in Crawley's Mystic Rose, to find that there are 
innumerable forms of courtship and marriage, that 
seasons of love-making are different, that types of 
wooing and winning vary with each culture. To the 
zoologist the species is the unit, to the anthropologist 
the unit is the culture. In other words, the zoologist 
deals with specific instinctive behaviour, the 
anthropologist with a culturally fashioned habit- 

Let us examine this in greater detail. In the first place 


we see that in man there is no season of rut, which 
means that man is ready to make love at any time 
and woman to respond to him — a condition which, 
as we all know, does not simplify human intercourse. 
There is nothing in man which acts with the same sharp 
determination as does the onset of ovulation in any 
mammalian female. Does this mean, however, that 
there is anything approaching indiscriminate mating 
in any human society ? We know that even in the 
most licentious cultures nothing like ' promiscuity ' 
exists or could ever have existed. In every human 
culture we find, first of all, systems of well-defined 
taboos which rigidly separate a number of people of 
opposite sexes and exclude whole categories of 
potential partners. The most important of these taboos 
completely excludes from mating those people who are 
normally and naturally in contact, that is, the members 
of the same family, parents from children, and brothers 
from sisters. As an extension of this, we find in a 
number of primitive societies a wider prohibition of 
sex intercourse which debars whole groups of people 
from any sex relations. This is the law of exogamy. 
Next in importance to the taboo of incest is the 
prohibition of adultery. While the first serves to guard 
the family, the second serves for the protection of 

But culture does not exercise a merely negative 
influence upon the sexual impulse. In each com- 


munity we find also inducements to courtship and to 
amorous interest besides the prohibitions and 
exclusions. The various festive seasons, times of 
dancing and personal display, periods when food is 
lavishly consumed and stimulants used, are as a rule 
also the signal for erotic pursuits. At such seasons large 
numbers of men and women congregate and young 
men are brought in contact with girls from beyond the 
circle of the family and of the local group. Very often 
some of the usual restraints are lifted and boys and 
girls are allowed to meet unhampered and uncontrolled. 
Indeed, such seasons naturally encourage courtship by 
means of the stimulants, the artistic pursuits, and the 
festive mood.^ 

Thus the signal for courtship, the release of 
the process of mating, is given not by a mere bodily 
change but by a combination of cultural influences. 
In the last instance these influences obviously act 
upon the human body and stimulate innate reactions 
in that they provide physical proximity, mental 
atmosphere, and appropriate suggestions ; unless the 
organism were ready to respond sexually no cultural 
influences could make man mate. But, instead of an 
automatic physiological mechanism, we have a com- 
plicated arrangement into which artificial elements 

^ Havelock Ellis has given a wealth of data on the seasonal 
mating in animal and man in the essay on Sexual Periodicity, 
vol. i (1910 ed.), especially see pp. 122 seqq. Compare also Wester- 
marck's History of Human Marriage, vol. i, ch. ii. 


have been largely introduced. Two points, therefore, 
must be noted : there is no purely biological release 
mechanism in man, but instead there is a combined 
psychological and physiological process determined 
in its temporal, spatial, and formal nature by cultural 
tradition ; associated with it and supplementing it 
is a system of cultural taboos which limit considerably 
the working of the sexual impulse. 

Let us inquire now what is the biological value of 
rut for an animal species and what are the consequences 
for man of its absence. In all animal species mating 
has to be selective, i.e. there must be opportunities 
for comparison and for choice with either sex. Both 
male and female must have a chance to display his or 
her charms, to exercise attractions, to compete for the 
chosen one. Colour, voice, physical strength, cunning 
and agility in combat — each a symptom of bodily 
vigour and organic perfection — determine the choice. 
Mating by choice, again, is an indispensable counter- 
part of natural selection, for without some arrangement 
for selective mating the species would degenerate. 
This necessity increases as we ascend the scale of organic 
evolution ; in the lowest animals there is not even the 
need for pairing. It is clear, therefore, that in the 
highest animal, man, the need for selective mating 
cannot have disappeared. In fact, the opposite 
assumption, that it is most stringent, is more likely to 
be true. 


Rut, however, supplies the animal not only with the 
opportunities for selection. It also definitely circum- 
scribes and delimits sexual interest. Outside the rutting 
season the sexual interest is in abeyance and the com- 
petition and strife as well as the overpowering 
absorption in sex are eliminated from the ordinary 
life of an animal species. Considering the great danger 
from outside enemies and the disruptive forces within, 
which are associated with courtship, the elimination 
of the sex interest from normal times and its 
concentration on a definite short period is of great 
importance for the survival of animal species. 

In the light of all this, what does the absence of 
rut in man really signify ? The sexual impulse is not 
confined to any season, not conditioned by any bodily 
process, and as far as mere physiological forces are 
concerned, it is there to affect at any moment the life 
of man and woman. It is ready to upset all other 
interests at all times ; left to itself it tends constantly 
to work upon and loosen all existing bonds. This 
impulse, absorbing and pervading as it is, would thus 
interfere with all normal occupations of man, would 
destroy any budding form of association, would create 
chaos from within and would invite dangers from 
without. As we know, this is not a mere phantasy ; 
the sex impulse has been the source of most trouble 
from Adam and Eve onwards. It is the cause of most 
tragedies, whether we meet them in present day 


actualities, in past history, in myth or in hterary 
production. And yet the very fact of conflict shows 
that there exist some forces which control the sexual 
impulse ; it proves that man does not surrender to 
his insatiable appetites ; that he creates barriers and 
imposes taboos which become as powerful as the very 
forces of destiny. 

It is important to note that these barriers and 
mechanisms which regulate sex under culture are 
different from the animal safeguards in the state of 
nature. With the animal instinctive endowment and 
physiological change throw male and female into a 
situation out of which they have to extricate them- 
selves by the simple play of natural impulses. With 
man the control comes, as we know, from culture and 
tradition. In each society we find rules which make it 
impossible for men and women to yield freely to the 
impulse. How these taboos arise, by what forces they 
work, we shall see presently. For the moment it is 
enough to realize clearly that a social taboo does not 
derive its force from instinct, but that instead it always 
has to work against some innate impulse. In this we see 
plainly the difference between human endowment and 
animal instinct. While man is ready to respond sexually 
at any moment, he also submits to an artificially 
imposed check upon this response. Again, while there 
is no natural bodily process which definitely releases 
active sexual interest between male and female, a 


number of inducements towards courtship guide and 
bring out the impulse. 

We can now formulate more precisely what we mean 
by the plasticity of instincts. The modes of behaviour 
associated with sex interest are determined in man 
only as regards their ends ; man must mate selectively, 
he cannot mate promiscuously. On the other hand, 
the release of the impulse, the inducement to courtship, 
the motives for a definite selection are dictated by 
cultural arrangements. These arrangements have to 
follow certain lines parallel to the hnes of natural 
endowment in the animal. There must be an element 
of selection, there must be safeguards for exclusive- 
ness, above all therfe must be taboos which prevent 
sex from constantly interfering in ordinary life. 

The plasticity of instincts in man is defined by the 
absence of physiological changes, of automatic release 
of a biologically determined cause of courtship. It is 
associated with the effective determination of sexual 
behaviour by cultural elements. Man is endowed with 
sexual tendencies but these have to be moulded in 
addition by systems of cultural rules which vary from 
one society to another. We shall be able to see with 
greater precision in the course of our present inquiry 
how far these norms can differ from each other and 
diverge from the fundamental animal pattern. 



T ET us follow the universal romance of life and look 
into its next stage. And let us examine the bonds 
of marriage into which lead the two parallel paths of 
man and animal, of eolithic cave-dweller and of super- 
simian ape. Of what does marriage really consist in 
animals, especially in apes ? Mating occurs as the 
culminating act of courtship and with this the female 
conceives. With impregnation the rut is over and with 
its end there ceases the sexual attractiveness of the 
female to other males. But this is not the case with the 
male who has won her, whom she has chosen and to 
whom she has surrendered. It is difficult to affirm 
from the data at our disposal whether in the state of 
nature the higher apes still continue to mate sexually 
after impregnation. The fact, however, that the female 
ceases to be attractive to other males while her mate 
remains attached to her constitutes the bond of 
animal marriage. The specific response of both male 
and female to the new situation ; their mutual attach- 
ment ; the tendency of the male to remain with his 
consort, to guard her, to assist her, and to protect and 
nourish her — these are the innate elements of which 
animal marriage is made up. The new phase of life 



therefore consists of a new type of behaviour ; it is 
dominated by a new hnk in the chain of instincts. 
This new link might appropriately be called the 
matrimonial response in contrast to the sexual impulse. 
The animal union is based neither upon the un- 
controllable passion of rut nor on the sexual jealousy 
of the male nor on any claims of general appropriation 
on the part of the male. It is based on a special innate 

When we pass to human society the nature of 
matrimonial bonds is found to be entirely different. 
The act of sexual union, in the first place, does not 
constitute marriage. A special form of ceremonial 
sanction is necessary and this type of social act differs 
from the taboos and inducements of which we spoke 
in the previous chapter. We have here a special creative 
act of culture, a sanction or hallmark which establishes 
a new relation between two individuals. This relation- 
ship possesses a force derived not from instincts but 
from sociological pressure. The new tie is something 
over and above the biological bond. As long as this 
creative act has not been performed, as long as marriage 
has not been concluded in its cultural forms, a man and 
a woman can mate and cohabit as long and as often as 
they like, and their relation remains something 
essentially different from a socially sanctioned marriage. 
Their tie, since there is no innate matrimonial arrange- 
ment in man, is not biologically safeguarded. Nor is 


it, since society has not established it, enforced by 
cultural sanction. As a matter of fact, in every human 
society a man and a woman who attempt to behave as 
if they were married without obtaining the appropriate 
social sanction are made to suffer more or less severe 

A new force, therefore, a new element, comes into 
play supplementing the mere instinctive regulation of 
animals : the actual interference of society. And it 
need hardly be added that once this sanction has been 
obtained, once two people have been married, they 
not only may but must fulfill the numerous obligations, 
physiological, economic, religious, and domestic which 
are involved in this human relationship. As we have 
seen, the conclusion of a human marriage is not the 
consequence of a mere instinctive drive but of complex 
cultural inducements. But after matrimony has been 
sociologically sealed and hall-marked, a number of 
duties, ties, and reciprocities are imposed, backed up 
by legal, religious, and moral sanctions. In human 
societies such a relationship can usually be dissolved 
and re-entered with another partner but this process 
is never easy to carry out, and in some cultures the 
price of divorce makes it almost prohibitive. 

Here we see clearly the difference between instinctive 
regulation on the one hand and cultural determinism 
on the other. While in animals marriage is induced 
by selective courtship, concluded by the mere act of 


impregnation, and maintained by the forces of the 
innate matrimonial attachment, in man it is induced 
by cultural elements, concluded by sociological 
sanction and maintained by the various systems of 
social pressure. And yet here again it is not difficult 
to perceive that the cultural apparatus works very 
much in the same direction as natural instincts and 
that it attains the same ends though the mechanism 
entirely differs. In the higher animals marriage 
is necessary because the longer the pregnancy, 
the more helpless the pregnant female and the 
new-born infant and the more necessary it is 
for them to have the protection of the male. The 
innately determined bond of matrimonial affection 
by which the male responds to the pregnancy of his 
chosen mate fulfills this need of the species, and is, 
in fact, indispensable for its continuity. 

In man this need for an affectionate and interested 
protector of pregnancy still remains. That the innate 
mechanism has disappeared we know from the fact 
that in most societies on a low as well as on a high 
level of culture the male refuses to take any 
responsibility for his offspring unless compelled to do 
so by society, which enforces the contract of marriage. 
But each culture develops certain forces and there 
exist certain arrangements which play the same part 
as the instinctive drives do in an animal species. The 
institution of marriage in its fundamental moral. 


legal and religious aspects must thus be regarded not 
as the direct outgrowth of the matrimonial tendency 
in animals but as its cultural substitute. This 
institution imposes upon man and woman a type of 
behaviour which corresponds as closely to the needs of 
the human species as the innate tendencies in animals 
correspond to theirs. 

As we shall see, the most powerful means by which 
culture binds husband and wife to each other consists 
in the moulding and organizing of their emotions and 
in the shaping of their personal attitudes. This process 
we shall have opportunity to study more fully, and in 
it we shall find the essential differences between animal 
and human bonds. While in animals we find a chain 
of linked instincts succeeding each other and replacing 
each other, human behaviour is defined by a fuUy 
organized emotional attitude, a sentiment, as it is 
technically called in psychology. While in the animal 
we have a series of physiological moments, events 
happening within the organism, each of which 
determines an innate response, in man we have a 
continuously developing system of emotions. From the 
first meeting of the two prospective lovers, through 
gradual infatuation and the growth of associated 
interests and affections, we can follow a developing 
and increasingly richer system of emotions in which 
continuity and consistency are the condition of a happy 
and harmonious relationship. Into this complex 


attitude there enter, besides innate responses, social 
elements, such as moral rules, economic expecta- 
tions and spiritual interests. The latter stages of 
matrimonial affection are powerfully determined by 
the course of courtship. On the other hand, courtship 
and the personal interest of two prospective lovers is 
coloured by the possibilities of future matrimony and 
by its advantages. In the anticipatory elements, in 
which the future responses are brought to bear upon 
present arrangements ; in the influence of memories 
and experiences ; in the constant adjustment of past, 
present, and future, we see why human relationship 
presents a continuous and homogeneous growth instead 
of the series of clearly differentiated stages which we 
find in the animal. 

In all this, again, we meet the same plasticity of 
instincts already noticed in the earlier stages, and we 
see that though the mechanisms under culture differ 
considerably from physiological arrangements, the 
general forms into which society moulds human 
matrimonial rules follow clearly the lines dictated by 
natural selection to animal species. 



/COURTSHIP, mating, and pregnancy lead in animal 
and man to the same end : the birth of the off- 
spring. To this event there is also a similar mental re- 
sponse in pre-human species as well as in woman and 
man under culture. In fact at first sight the act of 
birth might be quoted as the one organic event in which 
man does not differ at all from the animal. Maternity, 
indeed, is usually regarded as the one relationship which 
is bodily carried over from the simian to the human 
status ; which is defined biologically and not culturally. 
This view, however, is not correct. Human maternity 
is a relationship determined to a considerable degree 
by cultural factors. Human paternity, on the other 
hand, which appears at first as almost completely 
lacking in biological foundation, can be shown to be 
deeply rooted in natural endowment and organic 
need. Thus here again we are forced to compare 
minutely the animal with the human family, to state 
the similarities as well as the differences. 

With the animal, birth changes the relationship 
between the two mates. A new member has arrived 
into the family. The mother responds to it immediately. 



She licks the offspring, watches it constantly, warms 
it with her body, and feeds it with her breasts. The 
early maternal cares imply certain anatomical arrange- 
ments such as the pouches in the marsupials and the 
milk-glands in the mammals. There comes a response 
in the mother to the appearance of the offspring. 
There is also a response in the young — it is, in fact, 
perhaps the most unquestionable type of instinctive 

The human mother is endowed with similar 
anatomical equipment and, in her body, conception, 
pregnancy, and childbirth entail a series of changes 
analogous to the gestation of any other mammal. 
When the child is born the bodily status which con- 
stitutes animal motherhood is to be found also in the 
human mother. Her breasts swollen with milk invite 
the child to suck with an impulse as elementary 
and powerful as the infant's hunger and thirst. The 
needs of the child for a warm, comfortable, and safe 
place dovetail into the extremely strong, passionate 
desire of the mother to clasp the infant. They are 
correlated to her tenderness and solicitude for the 
child's welfare. 

Yet in no human society, however high or low it 
might be in culture, is maternity simply a matter of 
biological endowment or of innate impulses. Cultural 
influences analogous to those we found determining 
relations between lovers and imposing obligations 


between consorts, are at work even in moulding the 
relation of the mother to the child. From the moment 
of conception this relation becomes a concern of the 
community. The mother has to observe taboos, she 
follows certain customs and submits to ritual pro- 
ceedings. In higher societies these are largely but not 
completely replaced by hygienic and moral rules ; 
in lower they belong to the domain of magic and 
religion. But all such customs and precepts aim at 
the welfare of the unborn child. For its sake the mother 
has to undergo ceremonial treatment, suffer privations 
and discomforts. Thus an obligation is imposed upon 
the prospective mother in anticipation of her future 
instinctive response. Her duties run ahead of her 
feelings, culture dictates and prepares her future 

After birth the scheme of traditional relations is not 
less powerful and active. Ceremonies of purification, 
rules which isolate the mother and child from the rest 
of the community, baptismal rites and rites of the 
reception of the newborn infant into the tribe, create 
one and all a special bond between the two. Such 
customs exist both in patrilineal and matrUineal 
societies. In these latter there are, as a rule, even more 
elaborate arrangements and the mother is brought into 
yet closer contact with the child, not onl}^ at the outset 
but also at a later period. 

Thus it can be said without exaggeration that culture 


in its traditional bidding duplicates the instinctive drive. 
More precisely it anticipates its rulings. At the same 
time, all cultural influences simply endorse, amplify, 
and specialize the natural tendencies, those which bid 
the mother tenderly to suckle, to protect, and to care 
for her offspring. 

If we try to draw the parallel between the relation 
of father to child in animal and human societies, we 
find that it is easy to discover the cultural elements 
in humanity but difficult to find out what instinctive 
endowment could exist. As a matter of fact, in higher 
cultures at least the necessity for imposing the bond of 
marriage is practically and theoretically due to the fact 
that a father has to be made to look after his children. 
An illegitimate child has, as a rule, no chance of 
receiving the same care from its natural father as a 
legitimate one and the latter is cared for to a large 
extent because it is the father's duty. Does that mean 
that there are no innate paternal tendencies in man ? 
It will be possible for us to show that the human 
father is, on the contrary, endowed with definite 
impulses — not sufficient to establish natural paternity, 
but powerful enough to serve as the raw material out 
of which custom is fashioned. 

Let us first look at paternity among the higher 
mammals. We know that the male is indispensable 
there, because, owing to long pregnancy, lactation, 
and education of the young, the female and her offspring 


need a strong and interested protector. Correlated 
with this need we find what has been called in the 
previous chapter the matrimonial response. This 
response, which induces the male to look after the 
pregnant female, is not weakened by the act of birth, 
but, on the contrary, it becomes stronger and develops 
into a tendency on the part of the male to protect the 
whole family. The matrimonial attachment between 
the two partners has to be regarded biologically as an 
intermediate stage leading up to paternal attachment. 

Turning now to human societies, we see that the 
need, far from abating, becomes even stronger. The 
pregnant and lactant woman is not less but more 
helpless than her simian sister, and this helplessness 
increases with culture. The children again need not 
only the ordinary cares of animal infancy, not merely 
suckling and tending, as well as the education of 
certain innate tendencies, but also such instruction in 
language, tradition, and handicraft as is indispensable 
even in the simplest human societies. 

Can we therefore imagine that as humanity was 
passing from a state of nature into culture the 
fundamental tendency in the male, which under the 
new conditions was even more imperative, should 
be gradually lessened or be led to disappear ? Such a 
state of affairs would run counter to all biological 
laws. It is, in fact, completely denied by all the facts 
observed in human societies. For, once a man is made 


to remain with his wife to guard her pregnancy, to 
observe the various duties which he usually has to 
fulfill at birth, there can be not the slightest doubt that 
his response to the offspring is that of impulsive interest 
and tender attachment. 

Thus we see an interesting difference between the 
working of cultural and natural endowment. Culture — 
in the form of law, morals, and custom — forces the male 
into the position in which he has to submit to the 
natural situation, that is, he has to keep guard over 
the pregnant woman. It forces him also, through 
various means, to share in her anticipatory interest in 
the child. But once forced into this position, the male 
responds invariably with strong interests and positive 
feelings for the offspring. 

And this brings us to a very interesting point. In 
all human societies — ^however they might differ in the 
patterns of sexual morality, in the knowledge of 
embryology, and in their types of courtship — there is 
universally found what might be called the rule of 
legitimacy. By this I mean that in all human societies 
a girl is bidden to be married before she becomes 
pregnant. Pregnancy and childbirth on the part of an 
unmarried young woman are invariably regarded as 
a disgrace.^ Such is the case in the very free com- 

^ Wester marck in the History of Human Marriage, 1921, vol. i, 
pp. 138-157, cites approximately 100 cases of primitive peoples 
who are characterized by their pre-nuptial chastity. But many of 


munities of Melanesia described in this essay. Such is 
the case in all human societies concerning which we 
have any information. I know of no single instance in 
anthropological Hterature of a community where 
illegitimate children, that is children of unmarried 
girls, would enjoy the same social treatment and have 
the same social status as legitimate ones. 

The universal postulate of legitimacy has a great 
sociological significance, which is not yet sufficiently 
acknowledged. It means that in all human societies 
moral tradition and law decree that the group con- 
sisting of a woman and her offspring is not a 
sociologically complete unit. The ruUng of culture 
runs here again on entirely the same lines as natural 
endowment ; it declares that the human family must 
consist of the male as well as the female. 

And in this culture finds a ready response in the 

the statements quoted do not afford very definite evidence of this 
fact. Thus to say of certain tribes that " chastity is prized in man 
or woman " or that " a good deal of value is laid upon the virginity 
of the bride " is not to give proof of lack of pre-marital intercourse. 
What, however, is of extreme importance in this computation of 
evidence from our point of view is that the only thing it definitely 
indicates is the universality of the postulate of legitimacy. Thus 
twenty-five of the cases quoted refer, not to chastity, but to the 
prohibition of an unmarried girl being with child. Further, more 
than a score of others indicate, not the absence of illicit sexual 
relations, but that when they occur, censure, or punishment, or 
a fine, or compulsion of the two parties to marry, according to the 
tribe, follows discovery. In fact though the total evidence is not 
conclusive as regards chastity it does prove that the postulate 
of legitimacy is of extremely wide prevalence. The two problems 
should be kept distinct, from the point of view of our argument. 


emotional attitudes of the male. The father at all 
stages of culture is interested in his children, and this 
interest, no matter how it might be rationalized in 
certain patrilineal societies, is exactly the same in 
matrilineal societies where the child is neither an heir 
nor successor to his father nor even usually regarded 
as the offspring of his body.^ And even when, as in a 
polyandrous society, there is no possibility at all for 
any knowledge and interest in the matter of who might 
be the begetter, the one who is selected to act as the 
father responds emotionally to this call. 

It would be interesting to inquire in what way we 
could imagine the working of the instinctive tendency 
of fatherhood. With the mother the response is plainly 
determined by the bodily facts. It is the child whom 
she has created in her womb that she is going to love 
and be interested in. With the man there can be no 
such correlation between the seminal cell which 
fertilizes the female ovum on the one hand and the 
sentimental attitude on the other. It seems to me that 
the only factors which determine the sentimental 
attitude in the male parent are connected with the 
life led together with the mother during her pregnancy. 
If this is correct, we see how the dictates of culture are 
necessary in order to stimulate and organize emotional 
attitudes in man and how innate endowment is indis- 

^ Compare the writer's The Father in Primitive Psychology, 
"Psyche Miniatures," 1927. 


pensable to culture. Social forces alone could not 
impose so many duties on the male, nor without a 
strong biological endowment could he carry them out 
with such spontaneous emotional response. 

The cultural elements which enter into the father- 
to-child relationship are closely parallel to those which 
determine maternity. The father usually has a share 
in the mother's taboos, or, at least, he has to maintain 
some others side by side with her, A special type of 
prohibition which is definitely associated with the 
welfare of the child is the taboo on sexual intercourse 
with a pregnant wife. At birth there are again duties 
for the father to perform. The most famous of these is 
the couvade, a custom in which the husband has to 
take over the symptoms of post-natal illness and 
disability while the wife goes about the ordinary 
business of life. But though this is the most extreme 
form of affirmation of paternity, some analogous 
arrangement, by which the man shares in certain 
post-natal burdens of his wife, or, at least, has to carry 
on actions in sympathy with her, exist in all societies. 
It is not difficult to place this type of custom in our 
scheme. Even the apparently absurd idea of the 
couvade presents to us a deep meaning and a necessary 
function. If it is of high biological value for the human 
family to consist of both father and mother ; if 
traditional customs and rules are there to establish 
a social situation of close moral proximity between 


father and child ; if all such customs aim at drawing 
the man's attention to his offspring, then the couvade 
which makes man simulate the birth-pangs and the 
illness of maternity is of great value and provides the 
necessary stimulus and expression for paternal 
tendencies. The couvade and all the customs of its 
type serve to accentuate the principle of legitimacy, 
the child's need of a father. 

In all this we have again the two sides of the question. 
Instincts alone never determine human behaviour. 
Rigid instincts which would prevent man's adaptation 
to any new set of conditions are useless to the human 
species. The plasticity of instinctive tendencies is the 
condition of cultural advance. But the tendencies are 
there and cannot be developed arbitrarily. Although 
the character of the maternal relation is determined 
by culture ; although the obligations are imposed from 
outside by tradition, they all correspond to the natural 
tendency, for they all emphasize the closeness of the 
bond between father and child, they isolate them and 
mdke them dependent upon each other. It is important 
to note that many of these social relations are 
anticipatory : they prepare the father for his future 
feelings, they dictate to him beforehand certain 
responses, which he will later develop. 

Paternity we have seen cannot be regarded as a 
merely social arrangement. Social elements simply 
place man into a situation in which he can respond 


emotionally, and they dictate to him a series of actions 
by which the paternal tendencies can find their 
expression. Thus, while we find that maternity is 
social as well as biological, we must affirm that 
paternity is determined also by biological elements, 
that therefore in its make-up it is closely analogous to 
the maternal bond. In all this culture emphasizes 
rather than overrides the natural tendencies. It 
re-makes, with other elements, the family into the 
same pattern as we find in nature. Culture refuses 
to run riot. 



nnHE family life of mammals always lasts beyond the 
birth of the offspring and the higher the species 
the longer both parents have to look after their progeny. 
The gradual ripening of the child needs more protracted 
care and training on the part of both father and mother, 
and these have to remain united to look after the little 
ones. But in no animal species does the family last for 
life. As soon as the children are independent they leave 
the parents. This is in keeping with the essential 
needs of the species, for any association, with its 
corresponding ties becomes a burden to animals 
unless it has some specific function to fulfill. 

With man, however, new elements enter. Apart 
from the tender cares dictated by nature and endorsed 
by custom and tradition, there enters the element of 
cultural education. Not only is there a need of training 
instincts into full development, as in the animal 
instruction in food-gathering and specific movements, 
there is also the necessity of developing a number of 
cultural habits as indispensable to man as instincts are 
to animals. Man has to teach his children manual 
skill and knowledge in arts and crafts ; language and 



the traditions of moral culture ; the manners and 
customs which make up social organization. 

In all this there is the need of special co-operation 
between the two generations, the older which hands on 
and the younger which takes over tradition. And here 
we see the family again as the very workshop of cultural 
development, for continuity of tradition, especially 
at the lowest levels of development, is the most vital 
condition of human culture and this continuity depends 
upon the organization of the family. It is important 
to insist that with the human family this function, the 
maintenance of the continuity of tradition, is as 
important as the propagation of the race. For man 
could no more survive if he were deprived of culture 
than culture could survive without the human race to 
carry it on. Newer psychology teaches us, moreover, 
that the earliest steps of human training, those which 
happen within the family, are of an educational 
importance which has been completely overlooked by 
earlier students. But if the influence of the family is 
enormous at present, it must have been even greater 
at the beginnings of culture, where this institution was 
the only school of man and the education received was 
simple but had to be given with a vigour of outline 
and a strength of imperative not necessary at higher 

In this process of parental education by which the 
continuity of culture is maintained we see the most 


important form of division of functions in human 
society : that between giving the lead and taking it, 
between cultural superiority and inferiority. Teaching 
— the process of imparting technical information and 
moral values — requires a special form of co-operation. 
Not only must the parent have an interest in instructing 
the child, and the child an interest in being taught, 
but a special emotional setting is also necessary. There 
must be reverence, submission, and confidence on the 
one hand, tenderness, feeling of authority, and desire 
to guide on the other. Training cannot be done without 
some authority and prestige. The truths revealed, 
the examples given, the orders imposed will not reach 
their aim or command obedience unless they are backed 
up by those specific attitudes of tender subordination 
and loving authority which are characteristic of all 
sound parental relations to the child. These correlated 
attitudes are most difficult and most important in the 
relation between the son and the father. Owing to the 
vigour and initiative of the young and the conservative 
authority of the old male, there is a certain difficulty 
in the establishment of a permanent reverent attitude. 
The mother, as the nearest guardian and the most 
affectionate helpmate, usually finds no difficulties in 
the earlier stages of relation to children. In the 
relation between son and mother, however, which, if it 
is to continue harmonious, should remain one of 
submission, reverence, and subordination, there enter 


other disturbing elements at a later stage of life. To 
these, already known from the previous parts of this 
book, we shall presently have once more to return. 

The mature animal departs naturally from its 
parents. In man the need for more enduring bonds is 
indisputable. The education of the children, first of 
all, binds them to the family for a long period beyond 
their maturity. But even the end of cultural education 
is not the final signal for dissolution. The contacts 
established for cultural training last longer, and 
they serve for the establishment of further social 

Even after a grown-up individual has left his parents 
and established a new household his relation to them 
remains active. In all primitive societies, without 
exception, the local community, the clan or the tribe, 
is organized by a gradual extension of family ties. The 
social nature of secret societies, totemic units and 
tribal groups is invariably based on courtship ideas, 
associated with local habitation by the principle of 
authority and rank, but with all this it is still definitely 
linked with the original family bond.^ 

It is in this actual and empirical relationship between 
all wider social groupings on the one hand and the 
family on the other that we have to register the 

1 I cannot document this point of view more extensively here. It 
will be developed in a work on The Psychology of Kinship, in 
preparation for the International Library of Psychology. 


fundamental importance of the latter. In primitive 
societies the individual does build up all his social 
ties upon the pattern of his relation to father and 
mother, to brother and sister. In this, again, anthro- 
pologists, psycho-analysts and psychologists are fuUy 
in agreement, putting on one side the fantastic theories 
of Morgan and some of his followers. Thus the 
endurance of family ties beyond maturity is the 
pattern of all social organization, and the condition 
of co-operation in all economic, religious, and magical 
matters. This conclusion we reached in a previous 
chapter, where we examined the alleged gregarious 
instinct and found that there is neither an instinct 
nor a tendency towards " herding ". But if social 
bonds cannot be reduced to pre-human gregariousness, 
they must have been derived from the development of 
the only relationship which man has taken over from 
his animal ancestors : the relationship between husband 
and wife, between parents and children, between 
brothers and sisters, in short the relationship of the 
undivided family. 

This being so, we see that the endurance of family 
bonds and the corresponding biological and cultural 
attitude is indispensable not only for the sake of 
the continuity of tradition but also for the sake 
of cultural co-operation. And in this fact we 
have to register what is perhaps the deepest 
change in the instinctive endowment of animal 


and man, for in human society the extension of 
family bonds beyond maturity does not follow the 
instinctive pattern to be found among animals. We 
can no longer speak of plastic innate tendencies, for, 
since the family bonds extended beyond maturity do 
not exist in animals, they cannot be innate. Moreover 
the utility and function of life-long family bonds are 
conditioned by culture and not by biological needs. 
Parallel to this, we see that in animals there is no 
tendency to maintain the family beyond the stage 
of biological serviceability. In man, culture creates 
a new need, the need to continue close relations between 
parents and children for the whole life. On the one 
hand this need is conditioned by the transmission of 
culture from one generation to another ; on the other 
by the need of life-long endurance of bonds which 
form the pattern and starting-point for all social 
organization. The family is the biological grouping to 
which all kinship is invariably referred and which 
determines by rules of descent and inheritance the social 
status of the offspring. As can be seen, this relation 
never becomes irrelevant to a man and has constantly 
to be kept alive. Culture, then, creates a new type of 
human bond for which there is no prototype in the 
animal kingdom. And as we shall see, in this very 
creative act, where culture steps beyond instinctive 
endowment and natural precedent, it also creates 
serious dangers for man. Two powerful temptations. 


the temptation of sex and that of rebeUion, arise at 
the very moment of cultural emancipation from nature. 
Within the group which is responsible for the first 
steps in human progress there arise the two main 
perils of humanity : the tendency to incest and the 
revolt against authority. 



TXT'E shall proceed presently to discuss at some 
length the two perils of incest and revolt, but first 
let us rapidly survey the gist of the last few chapters 
in which the family among man and animals has been 
compared. We found that in both the general course 
of behaviour is paralleled in its external form. Thus 
there exists a circumscribed courtship, usually limited 
in time, and defined in its form both in human com- 
munities and in animal species. Again, selective mating 
leads to an exclusive matrimonial life of which the 
monogamous marriage is a prevalent type. Finally 
in animal and in man we found parenthood, implying 
the same kind of cares and obligations. In short, the 
forms of behaviour and their functions are similar. 
The preservation of species through selective mating, 
conjugal exclusiveness, and parental care is the main 
aim of human institutions as well as of animal 
instinctive arrangements. 

Side by side with similarities we found conspicuous 
differences. These were not in the ends but in the means 
by which the ends were reached. The mechanism by 
which the selection of mating is carried on, by which 
matrimo-nial relations are maintained and parental 

225 Q 


cares established, is in the animal entirely innate and 
based on anatomical endowment, physiological change, 
and instinctive response. The whole series shows the 
same pattern for all animals of the species. In man the 
mechanism is different. While there exists a general 
tendency to court, to mate, and to care for the offspring 
and while this tendency is as strong in man as in the 
animal, it is no longer clearly defined once and for all 
throughout the species. The landmark has disappeared 
and has been replaced by cultural limitations. The 
sexual impulse is permanently active, there is no rut 
nor any automatic disappearance of female attraction 
afterwards. There is no natural paternity, and even 
the maternal relations are not exclusively defined by 
innate responses. Instead of the precise instinctive 
determinants we have cultural elements which shape 
the innate tendencies. All this implies a deep change 
in the relation between instinct and physiological 
process and the modification of which they are capable. 
This change we have termed the " plasticity of 
instincts ". The expression covers the set of facts 
described above in detail. They aU show that in man 
the various physiological elements which release instinct 
have disappeared, while at the same time there appears 
a traditional training of the innate tendencies into 
cultural habit responses. These cultural mechanisms 
were analyzed concretely. They are the taboos which 
forbid incest and adultery ; they are the cultural 


releases of the mating instinct ; they are the moral 
and ideal norms as well as the practical inducements 
which keep husband and wife together — the legal 
sanction of the marriage tie ; the dictates which shape 
and express parental tendencies. As we know, all these 
cultural co-determinants closely follow the general 
course imposed by nature on animal behaviour. In 
detail, however, the concrete forms of courtship, 
matrimony and parenthood vary with the culture and 
the forces by which they shape human behaviour 
are no longer mere instincts but habits into which 
man has been educated by tradition. The social 
sanction of law, the pressure of public opinion, the 
psychological sanction of religion and the direct induce- 
ments of reciprocity replace the automatic drives of 
the instincts. 

Thus culture does not lead man into any direction 
divergent from the courses of nature. Man still has 
to court his prospective mate and she still has to choose 
and to yield to him. The two still have to keep to one 
another and be ready to receive the offspring and watch 
over them. The woman still has to bear and the man 
to remain with her as her guardian. Parents still have 
to tend and educate their children, and under culture 
they are as attached to them as under nature animals 
are to their offspring. But in all this an astounding 
variety of patterns replaces in human societies the 
one fixed type imposed by instinctive endowment upon 


all the individuals of a single animal species. The direct 
response of instinct is replaced by traditional norms. 
Custom, law, moral rule, ritual, and religious value 
enter into all the stages of love-making and parenthood. 
But the main line of their action invariably runs parallel 
to that of animal instincts. The chain of responses 
which regulate animal mating constitute a prototype 
of the gradual unfolding and ripening of man's cultural 
attitude. We must pass now to a more detailed com- 
parison of the processes of animal instincts and human 



TN the last chapter we summarized the salient points 
of our comparison between the constitution of the 
animal and the human family. Through the dis- 
appearance of the definite physiological landmarks, 
through the increasing cultural control in man there 
arises a complexity in the human response, a variety 
which at first seems to introduce nothing but chaos and 
disorder. This, however, is not really the case. In the 
frst place we can see that the varying emotional 
adjustments of mating in the human family are 
simplified in one direction. The human bonds culminate 
on their sexual side in marriage, on their parental side 
in a life-long enduring family. In both cases the 
emotions centre around one definite object, whether 
this be the consort, the child, or the parent. Thus the 
exclusive dominance of one individual appears as the 
first characteristic in the growth of human emotional 

As a matter of fact we can see this tendency even as 
we ascend in the animal kingdom from the lower to 
the higher species. Among the lower animals the male 
seed is often scattered broadcast and the fertilizing of 



the female egg is left entirely to physical agencies. 
The personal equation, selection and adjustment 
develop gradually and attain their fullest development 
among the highest animals. 

In man, however, this tendency is translated and 
enforced by definite institutions. Mating, for instance, 
is defined by a number of sociological factors some of 
which exclude a number of females, while others 
indicate the suitable partners or stipulate definite 
unions. In certain forms of marriage the individual 
bond is completely established by social elements, 
such as infant betrothal or socially prearranged 
marriages. In any case, right through courtship, 
matrimonial relations and the care of the children, 
the two individuals gradually establish an exclusive 
personal tie. A number of interests of economic, sexual, 
legal and religious nature are for each partner dominated 
by the personality of the other. The legal and the 
religious sanction of marriage establishes, as we know, 
a lifelong, socially enforceable bond between the two. 
Thus in human relations the emotional adjustments 
are dominated by one object rather than by the 
situation of the moment. Within the same relationship 
the emotions and the type of drives and interests 
vary : they are usually one-sided and disconnected 
at the beginning of the courtship, they gradually ripen 
into a personal affection during that period, they are 
immensely enriched and complicated by the common 


life in marriage, even more so by the arrival of children. 
Yet throughout this variety of emotional adjustments 
the permanence of the object, its deep hold on the other 
indivi<;iuars life constantly increases. The bond cannot 
be broken easily and the resistances are usually both 
psychological and social. Divorce in savage and civilized 
communities, for instance, or a rupture between parent 
and child is both a personal tragedy and a sociological 

But though the emotions which enter into the human 
family bond are constantly changing — though they 
depend upon circumstances — matrimonial love, for 
instance, entailing love and sorrow as well as joy, fear, 
and passionate inclinations — though they are always 
complex and never exclusively dominated by an 
instinct, yet they are by no means chaotic or dis- 
organized, in fact they are arranged into definite 
systems. The general attitude of one consort to the 
other, of a parent to a child and vice versa is not in 
any way accidental. Each type of relationship must 
dispose of a number of emotional attitudes which 
subserve certain sociological ends, and each attitude 
gradually grows up according to a definite scheme 
through which the emotions are organized. Thus in 
the relations between the two consorts the sentiment 
begins with the gradual awakening of sexual passion. 
In culture, this, as we know, is never a merely instinctive 
moment. Various factors, such as self-interest. 


economic attraction, social advancement, modify the 
charm of a girl for a man or vice versa, in low levels 
of culture as well as in more highly developed 
civilizations. This interest once aroused, the passionate 
attitude has to be gradually built up by the tradi- 
tional, customary course of courtship prevailing in 
a given society. No sooner has this attachment 
been built up, than the decision to enter marriage 
introduces a first contract, establishes a more or less 
sociologically defined relationship. Through this period 
a preparation for matrimonial ties takes place. The 
legal bond of marriage as a rule changes the relation- 
ship in which the sexual elements are still predominant 
mto one of common life, and here the emotional 
attitudes have to become reorganized. It is important 
to note that the change from courtship to matrimony, 
which in all societies is the subject of proverbs and jokes, 
entails a definite and difficult readjustment of attitudes : 
while in the human relationship the sexual elements 
are not eliminated nor the memories of courtship 
effaced, entirely new interests and new emotions have 
to be incorporated. The new attitudes are built upon 
the foundation of the old and personal tolerance and 
patience in trying situations have to be formed at 
the expense of sexual attractiveness. The initial 
charms and the gratitude for the erotic pleasure 
of earlier life have a definite psychological value 
and form an integral part of the later feelings. 


We find in this an important element of human 
sentiments : the carrying over of previous memories 
into later stages. We shall presently analyze the 
relation of mother to child and father to son, 
and show there that the same system of gradual 
ripening and organizing the emotions takes place. 
There is always a dominant emotional attitude 
associated with the bodily relation. Between husband 
and wife sexual desire is indispensable, as well as an 
associated bond of personal attractiveness and com- 
patibility of character. The sentimental elements of 
courtship, the passionate feelings of first possession 
must be incorporated into the calmer affection, allow- 
ing husband and wife to enjoy each other's company 
throughout the best part of their days. These elements 
must also be harmonized with the community of work 
and community of interest which unite the two into 
the joint managers of the household. It is a well-known 
fact that each transition between courtship and sexual 
cohabitation, between that stage and the fuller common 
life of later matrimony, between married life and 
parental life, constitutes a crisis full of difficulties, 
dangers and maladjustments. These are the points 
at which the attitude undergoes a special phase of 

The mechanism which we see at work in this process 
is based on a reaction between innate drives, human 
emotions and social factors. As we have seen, the 


organization of a society has economic, social, and 
religious ideals to impress upon the sexual inclination 
of men and women. These exclude certain mates by 
rules of exogamy, of caste division, or of mental 
training. They surround others by a spurious halo of 
economic attractiveness, of high rank, or superior 
social status. In the relation between parents and 
children also tradition dictates certain attitudes 
which even anticipate the appearance of the objects 
to which they pertain. The action of the sociological 
mechanisms is specially important when we see it at 
work in the growing mentality of the young. Educa- 
tion, especially in simpler societies, does not take 
place by the explicit inculcation of sociological, moral 
and intellectual principles, but rather by the influence 
of the surrounding cultural environment on the 
ripening mind. Thus the child learns the principles 
of caste, rank or clan division by the concrete avoid- 
ances, preferences and submissions into which he is 
being trained by practical measures. A certain ideal 
is thus impressed upon the mind and by the time the 
sexual interest begins to act the taboos and the 
inducements, the forms of correct courtship, the ideals 
of desirable matrimony are framed in his mind. It is 
imperative to realize that this moulding and gradual 
inculcation of ideals is not done by any mysterious 
atmosphere, but by a number of well-defined, concrete 
influences. If we cast back to the previous ideas of 


this book and follow the hfe of an individual in 
peasant Europe or savage Melanesia we can see 
how the child within the parental home is educated 
by the rebuke of the parents, by the public 
opinion of the elder men, by the feeling of shame 
and discomfort aroused by the reactions of them to 
certain types of his conduct. Thus the categories 
of decent and indecent are created, the avoidance 
of forbidden relationships, the encouragement towards 
certain other groups and the subtler tones of feeling 
toward the mother, father, maternal uncle, sister 
and brother. As a final and most powerful framework 
of such a system of cultural values, we have to note 
the material arrangements of habitation, settlement, 
and household chattels. Thus in Melanesia the 
individual family house, the bachelors' quarters, the 
arrangements of patrilocal marriage and of matrilineal 
rights are all associated, on the one hand with the 
structure of villages, houses, and the nature of territorial 
divisions, and on the other with injunctions, taboos, 
moral laws, and various shades of feeling. From this 
we can see that man gradually expresses his emotional 
attitudes in legal, social, and material arrangements 
and that these again react upon his conduct by mould- 
ing the development of his behaviour and outlook. 
Man shapes his surroundings according to his cultural 
attitudes, and his secondary environment again produces 
the typical cultural sentiments. 


And this brings us to a very important point which 
will allow us to see why in humanity instinct had to 
become plastic and innate responses have to be trans- 
formed into attitudes or sentiments. 

Culture depends directly upon the degree to which 
the human emotions can be trained, adjusted, and 
organized into complex and plastic systems. In its 
ultimate efficiency culture gives man mastery over his 
surroundings by the development of mechanical things, 
weapons, means of transportation and measures for 
protection against weather and climate. These, 
however, can only be used if side by side with the 
apparatus there is also transmitted the traditional 
knowledge and art of using it. The human adjustments 
to the material outfit have to be learned anew by each 
generation. Now this learning, the tradition of know- 
ledge, is not a process which can be carried on by 
sheer reason nor by mere instinctive endowment. 
The transmission of knowledge from one generation 
to another entails hardships, efforts and an inexhaustible 
fund of patience and love felt by the older generation 
for the younger. This emotional outfit, again, is 
only partly based on the endowment, for all the 
cultural actions which it dominates are artificial, non- 
specific, and therefore not provided with innate drives. 
The continuity of social tradition, in other words, 
entails a personal emotional relation in which a number 
of responses have to be trained and developed into 


complex attitudes. The extent to which parents can 
be taxed with burdens of cultural education depends 
upon the capacity of the human character for adapta- 
tion to cultural and social responses. Thus in one of its 
aspects culture is directly dependent upon the plasticity 
of innate endowment. 

But the relation of man to culture consists not only 
in transmission of tradition from one individual to 
another ; culture even in its simplest forms cannot 
be handled except by co-operation. As we have seen, 
it is the lengthening of the ties within the family 
beyond strict biological maturity which allows on the 
one hand of cultural education and on the other of 
work in common, that is, co-operation. The animal 
family of course has also a rudimentary division of 
functions, consisting mainly in the provision of food 
by the male during certain stages of maternal care and 
later on in the protection and nutrition afforded by 
father and mother. In animal species, however, both 
the nutritive adjustment to environment and the 
scheme of economic division of functions are rigid 
Man is allowed through culture to adapt himself to a 
very wide range of economic environment and this 
he controls, not by rigid instincts, but by the capacity 
for developing special technique, special economic 
organization, and adjusting himself to a special form 
of diet. But side by side with this merely technical 
aspect there must also go an appropriate division of 


function and a suitable type of co-operation. This 
obviously entails various emotional adjustments under 
various environmental conditions. The economic 
duties of husband and wife differ. Thus in an arctic 
environment the main burden of providing food falls 
on the man ; among the more primitive agricultural 
peoples the woman has the greater share of providing 
for the household. With the economic division of 
functions there are associated religious, legal and moral 
distinctions which dovetail into economic work. The 
charm of social prestige, the value of the consort as 
practical helpmate, the ideal of moral or religious 
nature, all these considerably colour the relationship. 
It is its variety and the possibility of adjusting such 
relations as the conjugal one and the parental one which 
aUow the family to adapt itself to varying conditions 
of practical co-operation and this latter to become 
adapted to the material outfit of culture and the 
natural environment. How far we can trace concretely 
these dependencies and correlations is beside the point 
in our present argument. I wish to emphasize here the 
fact that only plastic social ties and adjustable systems 
of emotion can function in an animal species which is 
capable of developing a secondary environment and 
thus adjusting itself to the difficult outer conditions 
of life. 

Through all this we can see that although the basis 
of human family relations is instinctive, yet the more 


they can be moulded by experience and by education, 
the more cultural and traditional elements these ties 
can accept, the more suitable will they be for a varied 
and complex division of functions. 

What has been said here with reference to the family 
refers obviously also to other social ties. But in these, 
contrary to what is the case with the bonds of the 
family, the instinctive element is almost negligible. The 
great theoretical importance of marriage and of the 
family runs parallel with the great practical importance 
of these institutions for humanity. Not only is the 
family the link between biological cohesion and social 
cohesion, it is also the pattern on which all wider 
relations are based. The further sociologists and 
anthropologists can work out the theory of senti- 
ments, of their formation under cultural conditions and 
of their correlation with social organization, the nearer 
shall we move towards a correct understanding of 
primitive sociology. Incidentally I think that an 
exhaustive description of primitive family life, primitive 
courtship customs and clan organization will rule 
out from sociology such words as " group instinct ", 
" consciousness of kind ", " group mind ", and 
similar sociological verbal panaceas. 

To those acquainted with modern psychology it 
must have become clear that in working out a theory 
of primitive sociology we had to reconstruct an 
important theory of human emotions, developed by 


one who unquestionably deserves to be ranked as one 
of the greatest psychologists of our time. Mr. A. F. 
Shand was the first to point out that in the classifica- 
tion of human feelings, in the construction of the 
laws of emotional life, we can reach tangible results 
only when we realize that human emotions do not float 
in an empty space, but are all grouped around a number 
of objects. Around these objects human emotions 
are organized into definite systems. Furthermore, 
Shand, in his book on The Foundations of Character, 
has laid down a number of laws whicji govern the 
organization of emotions into sentiments. He has 
shown that the moral problems of human character 
can be solved only by a study of the organization of the 
emotions. In our present argument, it has been possible 
to apply Shand's theory of sentiments to a sociological 
problem, and to show that a correct analysis of the 
change from animal to cultural responses vindicates 
his views to the full. The salient points which dis- 
tinguish human attachments from animal instincts 
are the dominance of the object over the situation ; 
the organization of emotional attitudes ; the continuity 
of the building up of such attitudes and their crystalliza- 
tion into permanent adjustable systems. Our additions 
to Shand's theory consist only in showing how the 
formation of sentiments is associated with social 
organization and with the wielding of material culture 
by man. 


An important point which Shand has brought out 
in his study of human sentiment is that the leading 
emotions which enter into them are not independent 
of each other, but that they show certain tendencies 
towards exclusion and repression. In the analysis 
which follows we shall have to elaborate on the two 
typical relations between mother and child on the one 
hand and the father and child on the other. This will 
also help to reveal the processes of gradual clearing off 
and of repression by which certain elements have to 
be eliminated from a sentiment as it develops. 

And here we should like to add that Shand 's theory 
of sentiments stands really in a very close relation to 
psycho-analysis. Both of them deal with the concrete 
emotional processes in the life history of the individual. 
Both of them have independently recognized that it 
is only by the study of the actual configurations of 
human feelings that we can arrive at satisfactory results. 
Had the founders of psycho-analysis known Shand's 
contribution, they might have avoided a number of 
metaphysical pitfalls, realized that instinct is a part 
of human sentiments and not a metaphysical entity, 
and given us a much less mystical and more concrete 
psychology of the unconscious. On the other hand, 
Freud has supplemented the theory of sentiments on 
two capital points. He was the first to state clearly 
that the family was the locus of sentiment formation. 
He also has shown that in the formation of senti- 


ments the process of elimination, of clearing away, is of 
paramount importance and that in this process the 
mechanism of repression is the source of conspicuous 
dangers. The forces of repression, assigned by psycho- 
analysts to the mysterious endo-psychic censor can, 
however, be placed by the present analysis into a 
more definite and concrete setting. The forces of 
repression are the forces of the sentiment itself. They 
come from the principle of consistency which every 
sentiment requires in order to be useful in social 
behaviour. The negative emotions of hate and anger 
are incompatible with the submission to parental 
authority and the reverence and trust in cultural 
guidance. Sensual elements cannot enter into the 
relation of mother and son if this relation is to remain 
in harmony with the natural division of functions 
obtaining within the household. To these questions 
we pass in the following chapter. 



' I 'HE subject of the " origins " of incest prohibitions 
is one of the most discussed and vexed questions 
of anthropology. It is associated with the problem of 
exogamy or of primitive forms of marriage, with 
hypotheses of former promiscuity and so on. There is 
not the slightest doubt that exogamy is correlated with 
the prohibition of incest, that it is merely an extension 
of this taboo, exactly as the institution of the clan with 
its classificatory terms of relationship is simply an 
extension of the family and its mode of kinship 
nomenclature. We shall not enter into this problem, 
especially because in this we are in agreement with 
such anthropologists as Westermarck and Lowie.^ 

To clear the ground it will be well to remember that 
biologists are in agreement on the point that there is 
no detrimental effect produced upon the species by 
incestuous unions. ^ Whether incest in the state of 

^ Compare Westermarck's History of Human Marriage and 
Lowie's Primitive Society. Some additional arguments will 
be contributed by the present writer in the forthcoming book on 

* For a discussion of the biological nature of inbreeding, cf. 
Pitt-Rivers, The Contact of Races and the Clash of Culture, 1927. 



nature might be detrimental if it occurred regularly 
is an academic question. In the state of nature the 
young animals leave the parental group at maturity 
and mate at random with any females encountered 
during rut. Incest at best can be but a sporadic 
occurrence. In animal incest, then, there is no bio- 
logical harm nor obviously is there any moral harm. 
Moreover, there is no reason to suppose that in 
animals there is any special temptation. 

While with the animal then there is neither bio- 
logical danger nor temptation and in consequence no 
instinctive barriers against incest, with man, on the 
contrary, we find in all societies that the strongest 
barrier and the most fundamental prohibition are 
those against incest. This we shall try to explain, 
not by any hypotheses about a primitive act of 
legislation nor by any assumptions of special aversion 
to sexual intercourse with inmates of the same house- 
hold, but as the result of two phenomena which 
spring up under culture. In the first place, under the 
mechanisms which constitute the human family serious 
temptations to incest arise. In the second place, 
side by side with the sex temptations, specific perils 
come into being for the human family, due to the 
existence of the incestuous tendencies. On the first 
point, therefore, we have to agree with Freud and 
disagree with the well-known theory of Westermarck, 
who assumes innate disinclination to mate between 


members of the same household. In assuming, how- 
ever, a temptation to incest under culture, we do 
not follow the psycho-analytic theory which regards 
the infantile attachment to the mother as essentially 

This is perhaps the main thesis which Freud has 
attempted to establish in his three contributions to 
sexual theory. He tries to prove that the relations 
between a smaU child and its mother, above all in the 
act of suckling, are essentially sexual. From this 
it results that the first sexual attachment of a male 
towards the mother is, in other words, normally an 
incestuous attachment. " This fixation of libido," to 
use a psycho-analytic phrase, remains throughout life, 
and it is the source of the constant incestuous tempta- 
tions which have to be repressed and as such form one 
of the two components of the CEdipus complex. 

This theory it is impossible to adopt. The relation 
between an infant and its mother is essentially different 
from a sexual attitude. Instincts must be defined not 
simply by introspective methods, not merely by analysis 
of the feeling tones such as pain and pleasure, but above 
all by their function. An instinct is a more or less 
definite innate mechanism by which the individual 
responds to a specific situation by a definite form of 
behaviour in satisfaction of definite organic wants. 
The relation of the suckling to its mother is first of 
all induced by the desire for nutrition. The bodily 


clinging of a child to its mother again satisfies its 
bodily wants of warmth, protection and guidance. 
The child is not fit to cope with the environment by 
its own forces alone, and as the only medium through 
which it can act is the maternal organism it clings 
instinctively to the mother. In sexual relations the 
aim of bodily attraction and cUnging is that union 
which leads to impregnation. Each of these two innate 
tendencies — the mother-to-child behaviour and the 
process of mating — cover a big range of preparatory 
and consummatory actions which present certain 
similarities. The line of division, however, is clear, 
because one set of acts, tendencies and feelings serves 
to complete the infant's unripe organism, to nourish, 
to protect and warm it ; the other set of acts sub- 
serves the union of sexual organs and the production 
of a new individual. 

We cannot therefore accept the simple solution that 
the temptation of incest is due to sexual relation between 
the infant and mother. The sensuous pleasure which is 
common to both relations is a component of every 
successful instinctive behaviour. The pleasure index 
cannot serve to differentiate instincts, since it is a 
general character of them all. But although we have 
to postulate different instincts for each emotional 
attitude yet there is one element common to them both. 
It is not merely that they are endowed with the general 
pleasure tone of all instincts, but there is also a sensuous 


pleasure derived from bodily contact. The active 
exercise of the drive which a child feels towards its 
mother's organism consists in the permanent clinging 
to the mother's body in the fullest possible epidermic 
contact, above all in the contact of the child's hps 
with the mother's nipple. The analogy between the 
preparatory actions of the sexual drive and the com- 
summatory actions of the infantile impulse are remark- 
able. The two are to be distinguished mainly by their 
function and by the essential difference between the 
consummatory actions in each case. 

What is the result of this partial similarity ? We can 
borrow from psycho-analysis the principle which 
has now become generally accepted in psychology 
that there are no experiences in later life which would 
not stir up analogous memories from infancy. Again, 
from Shand's theory of sentiments we know that the 
sentimental attitudes in human Ufe entail a gradual 
organization of emotions. To these we found it 
necessary to add that the continuity of emotional 
memories and the gradual building of one attitude on 
the pattern of another form the main principle of 
sociological bonds. 

If we apply this to the formation of the sexual 
attitude between lovers we can see that the 
bodily contact in sexual relations must have a very 
disturbing retrospective effect upon the relation 
between mother and son. The caresses of lovers employ 


not only the same medium — epidermis ; not only the 
same situation — embraces, cuddling, the maximum 
of personal approach ; but they entail also the same 
type of sensuous feelings. When therefore this new 
type of drive enters it must invariably awaken the 
memories of earlier similar experiences. But these 
memories are associated with a definite object which 
remains in the foreground of an individual's emotional 
interests throughout life. This object is the person of 
the mother. With regard to this person the erotic life 
introduces disturbing memories which stand in direct 
contradiction to the attitude of reverence, submission 
and cultural dependence which in the growing boy 
has already completely repressed the early infantile 
sentimental attachment. The new type of erotic 
sensuality and the new sexual attitude blend disturb- 
ingly with the memories of early life and threaten to 
break up the organized system of emotions which has 
been built up around the mother. This attitude, for 
purposes of cultural education, has become less and 
less sensual, more and more coloured by mental and 
moral dependence, by interest in practical matters, 
by social sentiments associated with the mother as the 
centre of the household. We have seen already in the 
previous chapters of this book how at this stage the 
relation between the boy and his mother is clouded 
over and how a reorganization of the sentiments has 
to take place. It is at this time that strong resistances 


arise in the individual's mind, that all sensuality 
felt towards the mother becomes repressed, and that 
the subconscious temptation of incest arises from the 
blending of early memories with new experiences. 

The difference between this explanation and that of 
psycho-analysis consists in the fact that Freud assumes 
a continuous persistence from infancy of the same 
attitude towards the mother. In our argument we try 
to show that there is only a partial identity between the 
early and the later drives, that this identity is due 
essentially to the mechanism of sentiment formation ; 
that this explains the non-existence of temptations 
among animals ; and that the retrospective power of 
new sentiments in man is the cause of incestuous 

We have now to ask why this temptation is really 
dangerous to man although it is innocuous to animals. 
We have seen that in man the development of emotions 
into organized sentiments is the very essence of social 
bonds and of cultural progress. As Mr. Shand has 
convincingly proved, such systems are subject to 
definite laws : they must be harmonious, i.e., emotions 
consistent with one another, and the sentiments so 
organized that they will allow of co-operation, con- 
tinuity of blending. Now within the family the 
sentiment between mother and child begins with the 
early sensuous attachment which binds the two with 
a deep innate interest. Later on, however, this attitude 


has to change. The mother's function consists in educat- 
ing, guiding and exercising cultural influence and 
domestic authority. As the son grows up he has to 
respond to this by the attitude of submission and 
reverence. During childhood, that is during this 
extremely long period in psychological reckoning which 
occurs after weaning and before maturity, emotions of 
reverence, dependence, respect, as well as strong attach- 
ment must give the leading tone to the boy's relation 
to his mother. At that time also a process of emancipa- 
tion, of severing all bodily contacts must proceed 
and become completed. The family at this stage is 
essentially a cultural and not a biological workshop. 
The father and the mother are training the child into 
independence and into cultural maturity ; their 
physiological role is already over. 

Now into such a situation the inclination towards 
incest would enter as a destructive element. Any 
approach of the mother with sensual or erotic 
temptations would involve the disruption of the 
relationship so laboriously constructed. Mating with 
her would have to be, as all mating must be, preceded 
by courtship and a type of behaviour completely 
incompatible with submission, independence and 
reverence. The mother, moreover, is not alone. She 
is married to another male. Any sensual temptation 
would not only upset completely the relation between 
son and mother but also, indirectly, that between 


son and father. Active hostile rivalry would 
replace the harmonious relationship which is the 
type of complete dependence and thorough sub- 
mission to leadership. If, therefore, we agree with the 
psycho-analysts that incest must be a universal 
temptation, we see that its dangers are not merely 
psychological nor can they be explained by any such 
hypotheses as that of Freud's primeval crime. Incest 
must be forbidden because, if our analysis of the 
family and its role in the formation of culture be 
correct, incest is incompatible with the estabUsh- 
ment of the first foundations of culture. In any type 
of civilization in which custom, morals, and law would 
allow incest, the family could not continue to exist. 
At maturity we would witness the breaking up of the 
family, hence complete social chaos and an impossi- 
bility of continuing cultural tradition. Incest would 
mean the upsetting of age distinctions, the mixing up 
of generations, the disorganization of sentiments and 
a violent exchange of roles at a time when the family 
is the most important educational medium. No society 
could exist under such conditions. The alternative 
type of culture under which incest is excluded, is the 
only one consistent with the existence of social 
organization and culture. 

Our type of explanation agrees essentially with the 
view of Atkinson and Lang, which makes the pro- 
hibition of incest the primal law, although our argu- 


ment differs from their hypothesis. We differ also from 
Freud in that we cannot accept incest as due to the 
innate behaviour of the infant. From Westermarck 
we differ in so far as the aversion to incest does not 
appear to us as the natural impulse, a simple tendency 
not to cohabit with persons living in the same house 
from infancy, but rather as a complex scheme of cultural 
reactions. We have been able to deduce the necessity 
of the incest taboo from the change in instinctive 
endowment which must run parallel with social 
organization and culture. Incest, as a normal mode of 
behaviour, cannot exist in humanity, because it is 
incompatible with family life and would disorganize 
its very foundations. The fundamental pattern of aU 
social bonds, the normal relation of the child to the 
mother and the father, would be destroyed. From 
the composition of each of these sentiments the 
instinct of sex must be eliminated. This instinct is 
the most difficult to control, the least compatible with 
others. The temptation to incest, therefore, has 
been introduced by culture, by the necessity of 
establishing -permanent organized attitudes. It is 
therefore, in a sense, the original sin of man. This 
must be atoned for in all human societies by one of 
the most important and universal rules. Even then 
the taboo of incest haunts man throughout life, as 
psycho-analysis has revealed to us. 



TN the previous chapter we have been mainly 
interested in the relation between the mother and 
the son ; here we shall discuss that between the father 
and the son. In this discussion the daughter recdves 
but Uttle of our attention. On the one hand, as results 
from all that has been said above in Chap. IX, incest 
between father and daughter is less important, while 
on the other, the conflicts between the mother and the 
daughter are not so conspicuous. In any case what is 
said about mother and son and father and son can 
refer with Uttle modification and on a less pronounced 
scale to the other set of relations. The cast of the 
Freudian (Edipus tragedy, therefore, in which the son 
again figures in relation to both parents, is anthro- 
pologically quite correct. Freud has refused even to 
place Electra side by side with (Edipus, and we have 
to countersign this act of ostracism. 

In discussing previously the relation between father 
and son we have definitely affirmed the instinctive 
basis of this relationship. The human family is in need 
of a male, as definitely as the animal family, and in all 
human societies this biological need is expressed in the 



principle of legitimacy which demands a male as the 
guardian, protector, and regent of the family. 

It would be useless to speculate upon the role of the 
animal father as a source of authority within the 
family. It seems unlikely that he should ever develop 
into a t3a'ant, because as long as he is indispensable 
to his children he presumably possesses a fund of natural 
tenderness and forbearance. When he ceases to be 
useful to the offspring they leave him. 

Under conditions of culture the father's authority, 
however, is indispensable, because at the later stages, 
when the parents and children have to remain together 
for the purpose of cultural training, there is need 
for some authority to enforce order within the family, 
as indeed within any other form of human grouping. 
Such grouping, based on cultural and not on biological 
needs, lacks perfect instinctive adjustment, implies 
friction and difficulties and needs the legal sanction 
of some sort of force. 

But though the father or some other male must 
become invested with authority at later stages, his 
role in the earlier periods is entirely different. As 
in the earliest stages of animal family, where the male 
is present to protect the pregnant and lactant femcde, 
so also in the earlier stages of the human family the 
father is a guard and a nurse rather than the male in 
authority. When he shares the taboos of pregnancy 
with his wife, and watches over her welfare at that 


time, when he becomes confined during his wife's 
pregnancy, when he nurses the babies, his bodily force, 
his moral authority, his reUgious prerogative and his 
legal power do not come into play at all. In the first 
place, what he has to do at those stages is regarded 
as a duty and not as a prerogative. In many of those 
intimate functions a man has to play the part of a 
woman — often in a somewhat undignified manner — 
or he has to assist her in certain tasks. Yet at the same 
time he is often excluded and submitted to ridiculous 
and humiliating attitudes — sometimes even regarded 
by the community as such — while his wife performs 
the important affairs of life. In all this, as we have 
repeatedly emphasized, the father acts in a meek and 
willing manner ; he is usually very happy in per- 
forming his duties, interested in his wife's welfare, 
and delighted with the small infant. 

The whole series of customs, ideas and social 
patterns imposed on the man by his culture is clearly 
correlated with his value to the family, with his 
utility to the species at that time. The father is made 
to behave like a loving, kind, and solicitous person, he 
is made to subordinate himself to his wife's organic 
activities, because at this stage his protection, his love, 
and his tender emotions make him into an efficient 
guardian of his wife and children. Thus here again 
the end of cultural behaviour among human beings 
is the same as that of innate endowment among 


animal species : this end is to shape an attitude of 
protective tenderness on the part of the male towards 
his pregnant mate and her offspring. But under 
conditions of culture the protective attitude has to 
last much longer — beyond the biological maturity of 
the young — while again, a much greater burden is 
placed upon the initial instalment of emotional tender- 
ness. And here we find the essential difference between 
the animal and the human family, for while the animal 
family dissolves with the cessation of the biological 
need for parental care, the human family has to endure. 
After that moment the family under culture has to start 
on a process of education in which parental tenderness, 
love and care are no longer sufficient. Cultural training 
is not merely the gradual development of innate 
faculties. Besides an instruction in arts and knowledge, 
this training also implies the building up of sentimental 
attitudes, the inculcation of laws and customs, the 
development of morality. And all this implies one 
element which we have found already in the relation 
between child and mother, the element of taboo, 
repression, of negative imperatives. Education consists 
in the last instance in the building up of complex and 
artificial habit responses, of the organization of 
emotions into sentiments. 

As we know, this building up takes place through 
the various manifestations of public opinion and of 
moral feeUng, by the constant influence of the moral 


pressure to which the growing child is exposed. Above 
all it is determined by the influence of that framework 
of tribal life which is made up of material elements 
and within which the child gradually grows up, to 
have its impulses moulded into a number of senti- 
ment patterns. This process, however, requires a 
background of effective personal authority, and here 
again the child comes to distinguish between the 
female side of social life and the male side. The women 
who look after him represent the nearer and more 
familiar influence, domestic tenderness, the help, the 
rest and the solace to which the child can always 
turn. The male aspect becomes gradually the principle 
of force, of distance, of pursuit of ambition and of 
authority. This distinction obviously develops only 
after the earlier period of infancy, in which, as we have 
seen, the father and the mother play a similar part. 
Later on, though the mother, side by side with the 
father, has to train and teach the child, she still 
continues the tradition of tenderness, while the father 
in most cases has to supply at least a minimum of 
authority within the family. 

At a certain age, however, there comes the time at 
which the male child becomes detached from the 
family and launches into the world. In communities 
where there are initiation ceremonies this is done by 
an elaborate and special institution, in which the new 
order of law and morality is expounded to the novice. 


the existence of authority displayed, tribal conditions 
taught and very often hammered into the body by a 
system of privations and ordeals. From the socio- 
logical point of view, the initiations consist in the 
weaning of the boy from the domestic shelter and sub- 
mitting him to tribal authority. In cultures where there 
is no initiation the process is gradual and diffused, but 
its elements are never absent. The boy is gradually 
allowed or encouraged to leave the house or to work 
himself loose from the household influences, he is 
instructed in tribal tradition and submitted to male 

But the male authority is not necessarily that of 
the father. In the earlier part of this book it is shown 
how such submission of the boy to paternal authority 
works and what it means. We reformulate it here 
in the terminology of our present argument. In 
societies where the authority is placed in the hands 
of the maternal uncle the father can remain the 
domestic helpmate and friend of his sons. The father 
to son sentiment can develop simply and directly. 
The early infantile attitudes gradually and continually 
ripen with the interests of boyhood and maturity. 
The father in later life plays a role not entirely dissimilar 
to that at the threshold of existence. Authority, tribal 
ambition, repressive elements and coercive measures 
are associated with another sentiment, centring 
round the person of the maternal uncle and building 


up along entirely different lines. In the light of the 
psychology of sentiment formation, and here I must 
refer to Shand's account, it is obvious that such a 
growth of two sentiments, each simply and internally 
harmonious, would be infinitely easier than the 
building up of the paternal relation under father-right. 
Under father-right the paternal role is associated 
with two elements each of which creates considerable 
difficulty in the building up of the sentiment. Where 
this mode of reckoning of descent is associated with 
some pronounced form of patria potestas the father has 
to adopt the position of the final arbiter in force and 
authority. He has gradually to cast off the role of 
tender and protective friend, and to adopt the position 
of strict judge, and hard executor of law. This change 
involves the incorporation within the sentiment of 
attitudes which are as diametrically opposed to one 
another as the attitude of sensuous desire and reverence 
within the maternal sentiment. There is no need, 
perhaps, to develop this point, to show how difficult 
it is to link up confidence with repressive powers, 
tenderness with authority, and friendship with rule, 
for on all these we have dwelt exhaustively in the 
earher parts of the book. There also we have spoken 
of the other aspect which is always associated with 
father-right, even where this does not imply a definite 
paternal authority, for the father has always to be 
dispossessed and replaced by the son. Even though 


his powers might be Hmited he is yet the principal 
male of the older generation, represents law, tribal 
duties and repressive taboos. He stands for coercion, 
for morality, and for the limiting social forces. Here 
also the building up of the relationship upon the initial 
foundation of tenderness and effective response into 
an attitude of repression is not easy. All this we know. 
Here, however, it is important to place this 
knowledge into our present argument : in the develop- 
ment of the human family the relation of father to 
offspring, instead of being based on an innate response 
which is closed by the departure of the mature child, 
has to be developed into a sentiment. The foundations 
of the sentiment lie in the biologically conditioned 
tenderness of paternal responses, but upon these founda- 
tions a relation of exacting, stem, coercive repression 
has to be built up. The father has to coerce, he has to 
represent the source of repressive forces, he becomes the 
lawgiver within the family and the enforcing agent of 
the tribal rules. Patria potestas converts him from a 
tender and loving guardian of infancy into a powerful 
and often dreaded autocrat. The constitution of the 
sentiment into which such contradictory emotions 
enter must therefore he difficult. And yet it is just 
this contradictory combination of elements which is 
indispensable for human culture. For the father is at 
the earlier stages the biologically indispensable member 
of the family, his function is to protect the offspring. 


This natural endowment of tenderness is the capital 
upon which the family can draw in order to keep him 
interested and attached to it. But here, again, culture 
has to make use of this emotional attitude, in imposing 
functions of an entirely different type upon him as the 
eldest male within the family. For as the children, 
especially the sons, grow up, education, cohesion 
within the family, and co-operation demand the 
existence of a personal authority which stands for the 
enforcement of order within the family and for the 
conformation to tribal law outside. The difficult 
position of the father is, as we can see, not the result 
merely of male jealousy, of the ill-tempers of an older 
man and of his sexual envy, as seems to be implied in 
most psycho-analytic writings ; it is a deep and 
essential character of the human family which has to 
undertake two tasks : it has to carry on propagation 
of the species and it has to insure the continuity of 
culture. The paternal sentiment with its two phases, 
the first protective, the other coercive, is the inevit- 
able correlate of the dual function in the human 
family. The essential attitudes within the (Edipus 
complex, the ambivalent tenderness and repulsion 
between son and father, are directly founded in the 
growth of the family from nature into culture. There 
is no need for an ad hoc hypothesis in order to explain 
these features. We can see them emerging from the 
very constitution of the human family. 


There is only one way of avoiding the dangers 
which surround the paternal relation and this is to 
associate the typical elements which enter into the 
paternal relation with two different people. This is the 
configuration which we find under mother-right. 



TT TE are now in a position to approach the vexed 
problem of paternal and maternal descent, or, as 
it is more crisply but less precisely called, father-right 
and mother-right; 

Once we explicitly state that the expressions 
" mother-right " and " father-right " do not imply the 
existence of authority or power, we can use them 
without danger as being more elegant than matriliny 
and patrihny, to which terms they are equivalent 
The questions usually asked with regard to these two 
principles are: which of them is more "primitive", 
what are the " origins " of either, were there definite 
" stages " of matriliny and patrihny ? — and so on. 
Most theories of matriliny aimed at associating this 
institution with the early existence of promiscuity, 
the resulting uncertainty of fatherhood and thus with 
the need of counting kinship through females. ^ The 
variations on the theme pater semper incertus fill 
many volumes on primitive morality, kinship, and 

^ See e.g. E. S. Hartland, Primitive Society, 1921, pp. 2, 32, and 



As often happens, the criticism which has to be 
directed against most theories and hypotheses must 
start with a definition of the concept and the formula- 
tion of the problem. Most theories imply that father- 
right and mother-right are mutually exclusive alter- 
natives. Most hypotheses place one of these alternatives 
at the beginning, the other at a later stage of culture. 
Mr. S. Hartland, for instance, one of the greatest 
anthropological authorities on primitive sociology, 
speaks of " the mother as the sole foundation of 
society " {op. cit., p. 2) and affirms that under 
mother-right " descent and therefore kinship are 
traced exclusively through the mother ". This 
conception runs throughout the work of this 
eminent anthropologist. In it we see mother-right 
as a self-contained social system, embracing and 
controlling all aspects of organization. The task 
which this writer has put before himself is to prove 
" that the earliest ascertainable systematic method of 
deriving human kinship is through the woman only, 
and that patrilineal reckoning is a subsequent develop- 
ment " (p. 10). Remarkably enough, however, right 
through Mr. Hartland's work, in which he tries to 
prove the priority of matrilineal over patrilineal descent, 
we encounter invariably one statement : there is 
always a mixture of mother-right and father-right. In 
a summarizing statement indeed, Mr. Hartland says 
that : — " Patriarchal rule and patrilineal kinship have 


made perpetual inroads upon mother-right all over the 
world ; consequently matrilineal institutions are found 
in almost all stages of transition to a state of society in 
which the fMher is the centre of kinship and govern- 
ment " (p. 34). As a matter of fact, the correct 
statement would be that in all parts of the world we 
find maternal kinship side by side with institutions 
of paternal authority, and we find the two modes of 
linking descent inextricably mingled. 

The question arises whether it is at aU necessary 
to invent any hypotheses about " first origins " and 
" successive stages " in the counting of descent and 
then to have to maintain that from the lowest to the 
highest types of society humanity lives in a transitional 
state. It seems that the empirical conclusion would 
rather be that motherhood and fatherhood are never 
found independent of each other. The logical line of 
inquiry indicated by the facts would be first of all to 
ask the question whether there is such a thing as 
matriliny independent of paternal reckoning and 
whether perhaps the two types of counting descent 
are not complementary to each other rather than 
antithetic. E. B. Tylor and W. H. R. Rivers had already 
seen this line of approach and Rivers, for instance, 
splits up mother-right and father-right into three in- 
dependent principles of counting : descent, inheritance 
and succession. The best treatment of the subject, 
however, we owe to Dr. Lowie, who has brought order 


into the problem and has also introduced the very 
efficient terminology of bilateral and unilateral kinship. 
The organization of the family is placed on the bilateral 
principle. The organization of a clan is associated with 
the unilateral kinship reckoning. Lowie ^ very clearly 
shows that, since the family is a universal unit and since 
genealogies are universally counted equally far on 
both sides, it is nothing short of preposterous to speak 
about the purely matrilineal or patrilineal society. 
This position is entirely unassailable. Equally importan t 
is Lowie's theory of the clan. He has shown that in a 
society where in certain respects the one side of kinship 
is emphasized there will arise groups of extended kindred 
corresponding to one or other of the sib or clan organiza- 
tions of mankind. 

It will be well perhaps to supplement Lowie's 
argument and to explain why unilateral emphasis 
has to be placed on the counting of certain human 
relations, in what respects this is done, and what are 
the mechanisms of unilateral kinship reckoning. 

We have seen that in all the matters in which the 
father and the mother are vitally essential to the 
child, kinship has to be counted on both sides. The 
very institution of the family, involving always 
both parents, binding the child with a two-fold 
tie, is the starting point of bilateral kinship 

^ R. H. Lowie, Primitive Society, chapters on the " Family ", 
" Kinship ", and the " Sib ". 


reckoning. If we distinguish for a moment between 
the sociological reality of native life and the doctrines 
of kinship reckoning entered into by the natives, we 
can see that kinship is counted on both sides at the 
earhest stages of the individual's life. Even there, 
however, though both parents are relevant, their 
roles are neither identical nor symmetrical. As life 
advances, the relation between the child and his 
parents changes and conditions arise which make 
an explicit sociological counting of kinship im- 
perative — ^which, in other words, force society to 
frame its own doctrine of kinship. The latter stages 
of education, as we have seen, consist in the handing 
over of material possessions and of the tradition 
of knowledge and art associated with them. They 
consist also in the teaching of social attitudes, obliga- 
tions and prerogatives, which are associated with 
succession to dignity and rank. The transmission of 
material goods, moral values, and personal prerogatives 
has two sides ; it is a burden on the parent who 
always has to teach, to exert himself, to work patiently 
upon the novice ; it is also a surrender on the parents' 
side of valuables, possessions and exclusive rights. 
Thus, for both reasons, the lineal transmission of 
culture from one generation to another has to be 
based upon a strong emotional foundation. It must 
take place between individuals united by strong senti- 
ments of love and affection. As we know, society can 


draw upon only one source for such sentiments — the 
biological endowment of parental tendencies. Hence, 
transmission of culture in all these aspects is invariably 
associated with the biological relation of parent to 
child, it always takes place within the family. This is 
not enough, however. There are still the possibilities 
of paternal transmission, maternal transmission, or 
else transmission in both lines. This latter can be shown 
to be the least satisfactory : it would introduce into 
a process which in itself is surrounded with perils, 
complications, and psychological dangers, an element 
of ambiguity and confusion. The individual would 
always have the choice of belonging to two groups ; he 
could always claim possessions from two sources ; he 
would always have two alternatives and a double status. 
Reciprocally, a man could always leave his position 
and his social identity to one of two claimants. This 
type of society would introduce a perpetual source of 
strife, of difficulty, of conflict, and as must be clear 
at first sight, it would create an intolerable situation. 
Indeed, we find our conclusion fully confirmed that 
in no human society are descent, succession and 
inheritance left undetermined. Even in such com- 
munities as those of Polynesia, where an individual 
can follow his maternal or paternal line alternatively, 
he must make his choice early in life. Thus unilateral 
kinship is not an accidental principle. It cannot be 
" explained " as due to ideas of paternity, or to this 


or that feature of primitive psychology or social 
organization. It is the onl}'^ possible way of deahng 
with the problems of transmission of possessions, 
dignities, and social privileges. As we shall see, 
however, this does not preclude a number of complica- 
tions, supplementary phenomena and secondary 
reactions. There is still the choice between mother- 
right and father-right. 

Let us have a closer look at the working of the 
principle of maternal and paternal kinship. As we know, 
the organization of emotions within the sentiment 
is closely correlated with the organization of society. 
In the formation of the maternal sentiment, as we 
followed it in detail in the first part of the book and 
as we summarized it in one of the last chapters, we are 
not able to see any deep disturbance by the change 
from the early tenderness to the exercise of authority. 
Under mother-right it is not the mother who wields 
coercive powers but her brother, and succession does 
not introduce any antagonisms and jealousies between 
the mother and her son, for here again he inherits 
only from her brother. At the same time the bond of 
personal affection and tenderness between the mother 
and the child is, in spite of all cultural and social 
influences to the contrary, stronger than between 
the father and the child. Nor is there any reason to 
deny that the obvious physical nature of motherhood 
may have greatly contributed towards the emphasis 


of the bodily identity between offspring and mother. 
Thus, while in the maternal tie the ideas about pro- 
creation, the tender feelings of infancy, the stronger 
emotional ties between mother and child would lead to 
a more powerful sentiment, this sentiment is in no way 
disturbed by the burden of legal and economic trans- 
mission which it entails. In other words, under mother- 
right the social decree that the son has to inherit from 
the mother's brother in no way spoils the relation 
to the mother and on the whole it expresses the fact 
that this relation is empirically more obvious and 
emotionally stronger. As we have seen in the detailed 
discussion of the institutions of one matrilineal society, 
the mother's brother, who represents stern authority, 
social ideals and ambitions, is very suitably kept at 
a distance outside the family circle. 

Father-right, on the other hand, entails, as we have 
seen in detail in the last chapter, a definite break within 
the formation of the sentiment. In the patrilineal 
society the father has to incorporate in himself the two 
aspects, that of tender friend and rigid guardian of law 
This creates both a disharmony within the sentiment, 
and social difficulties within the family by disturbing 
co-operation and by creating jealousies and rivalries 
at its very heart. 

One more point may be mentioned. Even more in 
primitive communities than in civilized societies, kin- 
ship dominates the regulation of sexual attitudes. 


The extension of kinship beyond the family implies 
in many societies the formation of exogamy side by 
side with the formation of clans. Under mother-right, 
the prohibition of incest within the family is in a simple 
manner extended into the prohibition of sexual inter- 
course within the clan. In a matrilineal society, 
therefore, the building up of the general sexual 
attitude towards all women of the community is a 
continuously harmonious and simple process. In a 
patriarchal society, on the other hand, the rules of 
incest which apply to the members of the family are 
not simply extended to the clan but a new scheme of 
ideas of the sexually licit and illicit has to be built up. 
Patrilineal exogamj'^ does not include the one person 
with whom incest should be most rigorously avoided, 
that is the mother. In all this we see a series of reasons 
why mother-right might be considered a more useful 
principle of social organization than father-right. 
The utility is obviously associated with that level of 
human organization where kinship plays a paramount 
sociological part in its narrower as well as in its 
classificatory form. 

It is clearly important to realize that father-right 
also presents considerable advantages. Under mother- 
right there is always a double authority over the 
child and the family itself is cleft. There develops that 
complex cross-system of relationship which in primitive 
societies increases the strength of social texture but 


which in higher societies would introduce innumerable 
complications. As culture advances, as the institutions 
of clan and classificatory kinship disappear, as the 
organization of the local community of tribe, city, and 
state has to become simpler, the principle of father- 
right naturally becomes dominant. But this brings 
us out of our special line of inquiry. 

To sum up, we have seen that the relative advantages 
of mother-right and father-right are well balanced 
and that it would probably be impossible to assign 
to either of them a general priority or a wider 
occurrence. The advantage of the unilateral as against 
the bilateral principle of kinship counting in legal, 
economic and social matters, however, is beyond any 
doubt and cavil. 

The most important point is to realize that neither 
mother-right nor father-right can ever be an exclusive 
rule of counting kinship or descent. It is only in the 
transmission of tangible values of a material, moral or 
social nature that one of the two principles becomes 
legally emphasized. As I have tried to show on other 
occasions,^ such a legal emphasis brings with it certain 
customary traditional reactions which tend to a certain 
extent to obliterate its one-sided working. 

Returning once more to our starting-point, that of 
the criticism expressed by Dr. Jones on the conclusions 

^ Crime and Custom in Savage Society, 1926 ; Nature, supplement 
of 6th February, 1926 ; and article of 15th August. 1925. 


reached in the previous parts of the book, it can now 
be seen that the appearance of mother-right is not a 
mysterious phenomenon brought about by " unknown 
social and economic reasons ". Mother-right is one 
of the two alternatives of counting kinship, both of 
which shows certain advantages. Those of mother- 
right are perhaps on the whole greater than those of 
father-right. And among them unquestionably we 
have to mention the central point which has been 
brought out in this chapter : the value which it has 
in eliminating the strong repressions in the paternal 
sentiment and in placing the mother in a more con- 
sistent and better adapted position within the scheme 
of sexual prohibitions in the community. 



T T 7E have now covered the field of our subject : the 
change in instinctive endowment correlated with 
the transition from nature to culture. We can briefly 
indicate the course of our argument and summarize 
our results. We started with psycho-analytic views on 
the origins and history of the complex. In this we 
came upon a number of obscurities and inconsistencies. 
The concept of the repression of already repressed 
elements ; the theory that ignorance and matriliny were 
devised as means of deflecting hatred ; the idea that 
father-right is a happy solution of most difficulties in 
the family ; were all difficult to reconcile with the 
general doctrine of psycho-analysis as well as with 
fundamental anthropological facts and principles. It 
was found also that all these inconsistencies result 
from the view that the CEdipus complex is the primal 
cause of culture, that it is something which preceded 
and produced most human institutions, ideas, and 
beliefs. In attempting to find in what concrete form 
this primordial CEdipus complex has originated accord- 
ing to psycho-analytic theory, we came upon Freud's 
hypothesis of the " primeval crime ". Freud regards 



culture as a spontaneously generated reaction to the 
crime and he assumes that the memory of the crime, 
the repentance and the ambivalent attitude have 
survived in a ' Collective Unconscious '. 

Our utter incapacity to accept this hypothesis 
forced us to examine it more closely. We found that 
the totemic crime must be imagined as a dividing 
event between nature and culture ; as the moment of 
cultural beginning. Without this assumption the 
hypothesis has no meaning. With it the hypothesis 
falls to pieces because of the inconsistencies involved. 
Having found that in Freud's hypothesis as in all 
other speculations on the early form of the family, 
the capital mistake is made of ignoring the difference 
between instinct and habit, between the biologically 
defined reaction and the cultural adjustment, it 
became our task to study the transformation of family 
ties due to the passage from nature to culture. 

We attempted to ascertain the essential modification 
in innate endowment and to show what were the 
consequences of it to human mentality. In the course 
of this we naturally came upon the most important 
psycho-analytic problems, and we were able to offer a 
theory of the natural formation of the family complex. 
We found the complex as an inevitable by-product of 
culture, which arises as the family develops from a 
group bound by instincts into one which is connected 
by cultural ties. Psychologically speaking, this change 


means that a cohesion by a chain of Unked drives is 
transformed into a system of organized sentiments. 
The building up of sentiments obeys a number of 
psychological laws which guide the mental ripening 
so as to eliminate a number of attitudes, adjustments, 
and instincts from a given sentiment. The mechanism 
of it we found in the influence of the social environment, 
working through the cultural framework and through 
direct personal contacts. 

The process of elimination of certain attitudes 
and impulses from the relation between father and 
child and mother and child present a considerable 
range of possibilities. The systematic organization of 
impulses and emotions may be carried out by a gradual 
drawing off and waning from certain attitudes, by 
dramatic shocks, by organized ideals, as in the cere- 
monials, by ridicule, and public opinion. By such 
mechanisms we find, for instance, that sensuality is 
gradually eliminated from the child's relation to its 
mother, while often tenderness between father and 
child is replaced by a stern and coercive relation. The 
way in which these mechanisms operate does not 
lead to exactly the same results. And many maladjust- 
ments within the mind and in society can be traced 
back to the faulty cultural mechanism by which 
sexuality is suppressed and regulated or by which 
authority is imposed. This we have presented with 
great detail in a small number of concrete cases in 


the first two parts of the book. This again has been 
theoretically justified in this last part. 

Thus the building up of the sentiments, the conflicts 
and maladjustments which this impHes, depend largely 
upon the sociological mechanism which works in a given 
society. The main aspects of this mechanism are the 
regulation of infantile sexuality, the incest taboos, 
exogamy, the apportionment of authority and the 
type of household organization. In this perhaps lies 
the main contribution of the present memoir. We have 
been able to indicate the relation between biological, 
psychological and sociological factors. We have 
developed a theory of the plasticity of instincts under 
culture and of the transformation of instinctive 
response into cultural adjustment. On its psycho- 
logical side our theory suggests a line of approach 
which, while giving fuU due to the influence of social 
factors, does away with the hypotheses of "group 
mind ", the " collective unconscious ", " gregarious 
instinct ", and similar metaphysical conceptions. 

In all this we are constantly dealing with the central 
problems of psj^cho-analysis, the problems of incest, 
of paternal authority, of the sexual taboo and of the 
ripening of the instinct. In fact the results of my 
argument confirm the general teachings of psycho- 
analysts on several points, though they imply the 
need of serious revision on others. Even on the concrete 
question of the influence of mother-right and its 


function, the results which I have pubHshed previously 
and the conclusions of this book are not entirely sub- 
versive of psycho-analytic doctrine. Mother-right, as has 
been remarked, possesses an additional advantage over 
father-right in that it " splits the (Edipus complex ", 
dividing the authority between two males, while on 
the other hand it introduces a consistent scheme of 
incest prohibition in which exogamy follows directly 
from the sexual taboo within the household. We had 
to recognize, however, that mother-right is not 
altogether dependent upon the complex, that it is a 
wider phenomenon determined by a variety of causes. 
These I have tried to state concretely in order to meet 
Dr. Jones's objection that I assume this appearance 
for unknown sociological and economic reasons. I have 
tried to show that mother-right can be made intelligible 
as the more useful of the two alternative forms of 
reckoning kinship. The real point, as we saw, is that 
the unilateral mode of counting relationship is adopted 
in almost all cultures but that among peoples of low 
cultural level the maternal line shows distinct advantage 
over the paternal one. Among these signal characteristic 
advantages of mother-right we find its power to modify 
and split the " complex ". 

I should add that from the point of view of 
psycho-analytic theory it is difficult to explain why 
the complex as such should be harmful. After 
all, to a psycho-analyst, the (Edipus complex is 


the fons et origo of culture, the beginning of 
rehgion, law, and morality. Why should there be 
any need to remove it ? Why should humanity 
or the " collective mind " have " devised " any 
means to break it up ? To us, however, the complex 
is not a cause but a by-product, not a creative principle 
but a maladjustment. This maladjustment assumes 
a less harmful form under mother-right than under 

These conclusions were first set forth in two articles 
which appeared separately a few years ago and are now 
reprinted as Part One and Two of this volume. Here 
again in dealing with the general problem, we have 
found certain confirmations of psycho-analytic theory, 
if this be taken as an inspiration and a working 
hypothesis and not as a system of dogmatic tenets. 

Scientific research consists in collaboration, in a 
give and take between various specialists. The 
anthropologist has received some help from the psycho- 
analytic school and it would be a great pity if the 
exponents of this latter refused to collaborate, to 
accept what is offered in good faith from a field where, 
after all, they cannot be at home. The advancement of 
science is never a matter of simple progress in a direct 
line. In the conquest of a new domain, claims are often 
pegged out on which the barren soil will never yield a 
return. It is as important for a student or for a 
school to be able to withdraw from an untenable 


position as to pioneer ahead into new fields of discovery. 
And, after all, it should ever be remembered that in 
scientific prospecting the few grains of golden truth 
can only be won by the patient washing out and 
rejection of a mass of useless pebbles and sand. 


Adolescence : 17 

Adoption : rare in Trobriands, 

Affection : maternal, 18, 26, 

207-8, 269 ; paternal, 31-2, 

211-12, 214-16, 254-6 
Ambivalence : 79, 80, 154, 261 ; 

of savages, 138 
Amphlett Islanders : neurotic, 

86-88 ; perversions, 90 
Anal-eroticism : 35 n., 39, 51, 54 
Animal life — v. Family 
Atkinson, J. J. : 149, 251 
Authority : in family — v. Father, 

Mother's brother 

Babyhood : 16. 18 

Birth: 18-19, 207, 209. 215; 

trauma of. 22 ; dream of, 95 
Boas. F. : 157 n. 
Brother: murder of, 101-2; 

—in myth, 114-15, 119-20; 

relations between brothers, 

Buhler, Charlotte : 33 n. 
Bukumatula (young people's 

house) : 67 
Butura (fame) : 45 

Cannibalism : mythical origin 

in Trobriands, 115 
Childhood : Pt. i, ch. vi and vii ; 

periods of, 15-17 — v. also 

Games, Sexuality, etc. 
Children's communities : 41, 

Clan : 45-8, 271, 212— v. also 

Co-habitation — v. Sexual re- 
Complex : — of family, 2, 183 ; 

— and myth, 5, Pt. ii. ch. i ; 

matrilineal. 80-1, 83, 85, 120, 

123. 134 ; — and social 
structure, 139, 143, 158; 
nature of, 144, 279 ; — and 
sentiment, 173-8, 275-9— u. 
also Nuclear complex. Qidipus 
complex. Repression 
Co-operation: 219-20,237-8 
Courtship : in animals, 193 ; 

in man. 196-7, 225, 227 
Couvade : 215-16 
Crawley. E. : 157 n.. 194 
Crime: 91. 100-2 
Cross-cousin marriage: 114 
Culture : ' origin ' of, 148-58 ; 
nature of, 157-8, 165-7,236-9; 
behaviour in, 180, 227-8 — v. 
also Emotion, Instinct, Senti- 
ment, Family 

Darwin. Charles : 148-151,159. 

193 n, 
' Decent ' : and ' indecent ', 

33-6, 38-9, 77, 235 
D'Entrecasteaux Islanders ; 87. 

90. 115 
Descent — v. Father-right. 

Mother -right. Family. Kinship 
Dewey, J. : 157 n. 
Discipline : absence in Tro- 
briands, 27, 41 
Divorce : 231 
Dokonikan — v. Tudava 
Dream fantasies : 91 ; at 

puberty, 63, 80 
Dreams : 92-7, 144 ; — of 

death, 101 ; — and magic, 

125 — V. also Kirisala 
Durkheim. E. : 157 n. 

Economics of marriage : 238 
Education in family: 218-21, 

234-5. 256, 267-8 
Electra complex : 65. 252 




Ellis, Havelock : 33 n., 193 n.. 
194, 196 n. 

Embarrassment at puberty : 
60-1, 63 

Emotions and culture : 236-7, 
276-7 ; organization in 
marriage, 230-3 — v. also Senti- 

Endopsychic censor : 242 

Excrement, cursing by : 104 

Excretion, interest in : 34, 38, 
51-2. 77 

Exogamy : 79, 96, 195; 234, 
242, 271, 277-8; breach of, 
— V. Suvasova 

Family : in psycho-analysis, 2-7; 
comparison of savage and 
civilized, 8-14, 19-32, 75-8. 
80 ; — complex, 2, 8, 15, 
74-82 ; Cyclopean, 149, 158, 
160, 164 ; among anthropoids, 
150-1, 159-62, 163 ; among 
man as compared with 
animals, summary, 225-8 ; 
fundamental constitution of, 
192 ; importance in culture, 
184-5, 221-3, 239; — ties, 
218-24, 238-9— t;. also 
Emotions, Fatherhood, 
Instinct, Marriage, Sentiment 

Father: in Trobriands, 9-11; 
in Europe, 27-9 ; compared, 
12-13, 23-4, 29-32, 42-4, 76-7; 
— and daughter, 12, 38, 43, 
65-6, 72-3, 76 ; — and son, 
37-8, 43, 61. 68-9, 80, 253-62 ; 
gifts, 120-1 ; authoritv, 42-4, 
183, 220, 224, 254, 257-62 ; 
absent in Trobriand myth 
109-10— y. also Affection, 

Fatherhood : social nature of, 
23, 214-17 ; ignorance of 
physiological, 9, 109, 145, 
137-46, 171 

Father-right and mother-right : 

Fire, myth of : 115 

Fliigel, J. C. : 5 n., 16 n. 

Folk-lore and psycho-analysis : 
104— v. also Myth 

Frazer, Sir J. G. : 157 n., 194 
Freud, S.: 1, 6, 15 n., 35, 157 n., 
172, 241-2 ; modification of 
his theory of complex, 81-2 ; 
sex latency period, 49-51, 78 ; 
theory of neurosis, 86, 89-90 ; 
of dreams, 92^, 124 ; of 
folk-lore, 104 ; Totem and 
Taboo, 148, 168 ; Cyclopean 
family, 149-152, 158-60, 164 ; 
totemism and beginnings of 
culture, 149-59, 162, 167, 274 ; 
critique of, 155-172 ; on 
incest, 244-6, 249, 252 

Games, sexual, of children : 9, 

Genital, interest : 35 n., 39, 

Ginsberg, M. : 157.n. 
Gregariousness — v. Herd Instinct 
Gwayluwa (mania) : 87 

Hartland, E. S. : 263 n., 264 
Herd instinct, disproved : 185- 

92, 222 
Hobhouse, L. T. : 157 n. 
Homosexuality — v. Perversion 

Incest : father-daughter, 65-6, 
73, 100 ; brother-sister, 84, 
96-9, 132 ; mother-son, 245- 
52, 271, 277 ; last absent in 
Trobriands, 100 ; incestous 
dreams. 95-7 ; incestous 
temptations, 80, 83, 139, 183, 
224, Pt. iv, ch. ix ; in myth, 
126-9, 134 ; biology of 
incestous unions, 243-4 

' Indecent ' : 33-6, 38-9, 51-5, 
71, 77 ; category created by 
elders, 52 — v. also ' Decent ' 

Infancy : period of development, 

Infantile sexuality — v. Sexuality 
of children 

Initiation : 17, 257-8 ; none 
in Trobriands, 59-60 

Instinct : defined, 161, 186, 245 ; 
— and custom. 22 ; — modi- 
fied under culture. 182, 184, 
192, 199-200, 203-6, 225-8; 



strengthened bv culture, 210, 
212, 214-15, 216-17—1;. also 
Herd instinct, Sentiment 

Jealousy : uncle and nephew, 

79, 83, 103 
Jones, Ernest : 6, 136-47, 153, 

158, 162-3. 272-3, 278 

Kada — v. Mother's brother 
Kayro'iwo — v. Magic of love 
Kinship: 47, 69 n., 159; bi- 
lateral and unilateral, 266-9, 
272, 278— t;. also Father, 
Mother, etc. 
Kinsmen: 47-8, 101 
Kirisala : magical dream, 128 
Kroeber, A. L. : 157 n., 167, 172 
Kula : dreams, 93-4 ; magic, 

Kwoygapani : magic, 112 

Lang, Andrew: 157 n., 251 
Language : 180, 182, 189-90 
Legitimacy, postulate of : 212-14 
' Libido ' : 1, 33, 245 
Lowie, R. H. : 157 n., 184 n., 

243 n., 265-6 
Lugiita (sister) : 108 

Magic: 93, 108, 117; black, 

87-8, 101 ; love, 84, 93, 123-9. 

130, 132-3 ; suvasova, 99 ; 

shipwreck, 122 ; — and myth, 

117-134; magical filiation, 

129-131 — V. also Kwoygapani, 

Mailu : neurasthenics in, 88-9 
Malasi : clan, and incest, 97 
Marett, R. R. : 157 n. 
Marriage : in Trobriands, 9-12, 

45; animal, 201-2. 204; 

human, 202-6, 225-8, 230 
' Mass psyclie ' : 156-8 
Material culture : 180-2, 190-1 
Maternal instinct : 18, 20, 22, 

160, 207-8— y. also Affection 
Mating : 197, 225, 228, 230 
Matrihny : 4, 9, 75-6, 103 ; 

— and myth, 108-17— w. 

also Mother-right 
Matrimonial response : 202, 211 
McDougall, W. : 175 

Medium (spiritualistic) : 88, 98 

Miracle : 131-2 

Missions : and native morality, 

Mokadayu, story of : 98 

Moll, A. : 33 n., 49 

Morals : 182, 256-7 

Morgan, L. H. : 222 

Mother : and son, 36, 38, 62, 
80, 220, 245-52, 269-70 [v. 
also Incest) ; — and daughter, 
36, 65 

Motherhood : in savage and 
civilized society compared, 
19-23, 25-7 

Mother-right : 102 ; ' origin ', 
137-140, 145-7. 171. 278; 
and father-right, Pt. iv, ch. 
xi — V. also Matriliny 

Mother's brother : 9-10, 13, 
44-7, 69, 79, 100, 113, 116, 
120-1, 258-9 — V. also Tudava 

Myth : 6, 108-34 ; classifica- 
tion of, 108 ; interpretation 
of, 116; — of flying canoe, 
118-22 ; — of salvage magic, 
122-3 ; — of love magic. 
126-9 ; and ritual, 133 — v. 
also Fire, Magic, Tudava 

Nagowa (mental disorder) : 87 

Nakedness : no taboo in 
Melanesia, 55 

Neurosis : among Melanesians, 
85-90 ; interpretation of, 170 

' Nuclear complex ' : 4. 75, 137, 
173-8 ; varies with social 
strata, 14-15 ; with constitu- 
tion of family, 81-2, 142 ; 
Jones's view of. 137 — v. also 

Nursing of child: 20-21. 23, 
208, 245-7 

Obscenity : 104-7 

CEdipus complex : 2, 5, 6, 65, 
78, 80, 83, 135, 182, 245, 252. 
261, 274, 278-9 ; product of a 
patriarchal society, 5, 75, 
167-70, 173 ; assimilation 
of, 168-9 ; assumed univer- 
sality, 137-48, 158, 162-3, 171 



Parental love : among animals, 
IW», 207-8 ; — in man, 208 

Parricide : 102 ; primeval, 152, 
Pt. iii, ch. iv and v ; critique 
of. 172, 251, 274 

Paternity: biological foundation 
of, 207, 210-15; cultural rein- 
forcement of, 215-17 — V. also 

Patria postestas — r. Father, 

Patriarchy : 168-70 

Peasant family : 14. 17, 29, 
34,;J7, 41,43, 51-4, 64 

Perversions : rare in Trobriands, 
57, 90 

Physiological fatherhood — v. 

Pitt-Rivers, G. : 22 n., 184 n., 
243 n. 

Plasticity of instincts : 200, 206, 
216, 223, 236-7, 277, Pt. iv, 
ch. vii — V. also Instinct 

Ploss-Renz : 33 n. 

Pokala (pavment) : 120 

Pregnancy': 19-21, 204, 208-9, 
210-12, 214— j;. also Taboo 

Primal horde — v. Family, Cyclo- 

Property : in magic, 120-1, 125, 

Psycho-analysis : relation to 
biology and sociology, 1, 135 ; 
to anthropology, 6-7, 116, 136, 
140-1,279-80; —and family, 
2, 75, 81 ; — and myth, 134 ; 
— and theory of A. F. Shand, 

Puberty : 59-73 ; of civilized 
boy, 60-4 ; of civilized girl, 
64-6 ; in Trobriands, 66-73 

Rank, Dr O. : 6, 22 

Repression : 38-9, 71-2, 80-3, 
241-2, 273 ; — and neurosis, 
89 ; — and dreams, 91-3 ; 
— and abuse, 104-7 ; — and 
myth, 110 ; — of knowledge 
of paternity, 137-8, 144-7 ; 
- and the complex, 143-6, 
171. 174-5 

Rivers, W. H. R. : 265 

Robertson Smith, \V. : 148-9 
Rut : 194 5. 197-8. 201 

Selective mating — v. Mating 
Sentiment : 2, 75, 176-8, 191, 

205, 240-2, 248-50, 260-1, 

Pt.iv, ch.viii — v. also Instinct, 

Sex confidences : 36 n. 
Sex latency period : 49-55, 58, 

Sexuality of children : 9, 33, 

35, 49-50, 55-8, 77, 86, 277— 

V. also Games 
Sexual desire : in marriage, 233 
Sexual dreams : 95-7 
Sexual impulse : 193-8; control 

of, 199-200 
Sexual relations : 30, 195-6, 

200-6, 230-4 ; and mother, 

Sexual rivalry : 36-7 
Shand, A. F. : 2, 175-8, 240-2, 

247, 249, 259 
Sister— v. Incest, Obscenity, 

etc. ; substitute for mother, 

Social organization : 221-3 — v. 

also Family, Clan 
Speech — v. Language 
Stern, W. : 33 n. 
Stout, G. F. : 175 
Succession : 268-9 — v. also Kin- 
Suckling : 245-7 
Sidumwoya (love magic) : 125-8 
Suvasova (breach of exogamy) : 

73, 96, 99-100 

Taboo : 79, 83, 128, 133, 2561; 
brother and sister, 12, 46, 
57_8, 70-2, 79 ;— of birth, 19, 
22 ; — of pregnancv, 21, 209, 
215, 254 ; sex, 47^ 77, 100, 
165, 195, 199, 200. 226 ; 
exogamv, 79 ; incest, 79, 252. 
277 ; origin of, 148, 155 

Tomakava (stranger) : 47-8 

Totemism : 148, 155. 162-3, 
Pt. iii, ch. iii-iv ; totemic 
sacrament, 149, 152, 165 

Tradition : 219, 227, 236 



Tudava, myth of : 111-14 
Tylor. E. li. : 265 

Vlatile (younp man) : 66 

Uncle : maternal — v. Mother's 

brother; substitute for father, 

Unconscious clement in complex 

174-5. 182 

Veyola- ~v . Kmsnirn 

Wayi^igi, magic of rain and 

sunshine : 130, 133 
Weaning : 23, 25-6 
Westerniarck, E. : 157 11., 175. 

194, 196 n., 212 n.. 243 n .244. 

Witches, flying ; 122 



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